Mohammed El-Amine Souef, the special representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and head of ATMIS, said the transfer of security duties will be done in line with the Somalia Transition Plan, which outlines the process toward the gradual handover of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces by December 2024.
"I wish to reaffirm our commitment to implementing the transfer of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces in line with the Somali Transition Plan and the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions," Souef said on Thursday.
The AU envoy, who held a joint news conference with Somali Minister for Information, Culture and Tourism Daud Aweis, said ATMIS has finalized plans to commence the drawdown of 2,000 troops which must be done by the end of this month.
Souef expressed confidence that the government has generated sufficient forces to take over security responsibilities once ATMIS troops leave, noting that he has full confidence in the capabilities of the Somali Security Forces.
Sad��,Uganda-Somalia war against terrorism: 137 Ugandan soldiers were killed in Somalia, 147 escaped with serious injuries, and 35 taken away alive by Al-shabaab terrorists. My deepest condolences to all Ugandans and the families who lost their loved ones. #SayNoToTerrorismpic.twitter.com/nUPpoDYef1
The AU envoy said the Somali National Army has over the last one year shown a growing ability to conduct military operations against the terrorist group.
"I wish to sincerely commend the leadership of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in ensuring force generation as well as bringing on board various segments of the Somali public in the fight against al-Shabab."
ATMIS is expected to withdraw 2,000 troops by the end of June in a phased handover of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces in the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan in line with UN Resolution 2670.
The AU peace mission is expected to fully exit Somalia by Dec. 31, 2024. The two officials said operations against al-Shabab fighters to liberate remaining territories under their control were ongoing in various parts of the country.
Aweis lauded the Somali security forces for their determination in ensuring peace and stability across the country and urged security agencies to continue to work together to eliminate the threat posed by al-Shabab. The minister outlined various initiatives taken by government officials and agencies to ensure the Somali public enjoys relative peace and stability.