Somalia has rejected a proposal by the African Union to turn its peacekeeping force in Mogadishu into a hybrid mission, in what could set the stage for a battle for attention at the United Nations Security Council.
Two days after the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) endorsed the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) to transition into a United Nations-financed mission, Mogadishu says the move does not meet the country’s strategic vision.
A statement issued by Somalia’s Federal Ministry of Defence accused the AU organ of disregarding the country’s views, including a joint technical team created to assess the best option for the country.
“The FGS (federal government of Somalia) expresses grave concern at the AUPSC continued disregard of Somalia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence by repeatedly pursuing an agenda that undermines the agenda of the AUPSC and violates the basic rights of a member state,” the Ministry said on Tuesday.
Somalia says it had proposed and agreed with the joint technical team for a Concept of Operations (Conops) that would gradually place primary responsibility of the country’s security in the hands of local security agencies.
The Ministry argued the arrangement was to be in place from January next year until after 2023 when Mogadishu hoped its local forces would be strong enough to take over the country’s entire security.
“The FGS regrets that the developed joint draft Conops was neither acknowledged nor endorsed by the AUPSC…the AUPSC must recognise that any future AU transitional mission will be dependent on the consent of the country.”
While the AU organ had proposed that Amisom stays on beyond January as an interim measure, it suggested that the UN Security Council approves a change from the current combat force to a multidimensional AU-UN hybrid mission meant to address security and institutional rebuilding needs for the country.
The AUPSC said in a dispatch on Sunday that this proposal was agreed on October 7. This would see the Amisom troop contributors continue to play a role in the country beyond this year if the UN Security Council endorses the suggestion.
It would also mean that Amisom could get additional troops and other technical personnel from other countries, beyond the current five — Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Burundi.
Mogadishu had earlier rejected proposals of an independent experts’ report which proposed four measures, including re-hatting to a hybrid mission, becoming multidimensional but under AU, continuing to serve as Amisom or exiting the country within six months. Mogadishu argues it doesn’t need a vacuum but wants an arrangement that supports its local security agencies to take over responsibilities.
Amisom’s mandate expires on December 31, having initially been extended by the UN Security Council from February this year. The mission was first created in 2007 by the African Union to help guard a transitional federal government that was setting up base. But as a combat force, it is not financed by the UN and relies on donors to run operations.
The European Union, one of its initial key funders has since dried its taps to a trickle. Troop contributing countries had endorsed a hybrid format, saying it would guarantee funding and provide what they called force multipliers.
The UN Security Council is expected to decide the future of the mission within this month.