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ATMIS initiates troop reduction and welcomes new force commander for Somalia mission

The drawdown is in compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 2628 and 2670 which mandates ATMIS to draw down 2000 soldiers by the end of June and hand over security in agreed areas to the Somali Security Forces (SSF).

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) and Head of ATMIS, Ambassador Mohammed El-Amine Souef, says a joint technical committee with members drawn from appropriate stakeholders including the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and ATMIS have identified, and agreed on, Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) to be handed over from ATMIS to SSF or to be collapsed.

The Head of ATMIS, who was on an official visit to ATMIS Sector 5 headquarters in Jowhar said while ATMIS reduces the number of soldiers on the ground, the Somali Security Forces will increase its numbers to take over the areas that ATMIS will hand over.

Deputy Force Commander in charge of Operations and Plans, Maj. Gen. Marius Ngendabanka, who was with the SRCC for the working visit to Jowhar, said an operations order had already been released and the joint technical committee team is on schedule to meet the 30 June deadline.

He emphasized that the drawdown of 2000 ATMIS soldiers will not impact on security for key government installations and major population centres if the SSF takes over.

ATMIS continues to conduct both joint targeted and routine operations to degrade the terror group Al-Shabaab. In Mogadishu and the regions, ATMIS provides security to population centres, main supply routes, and key government institutions including Parliament, Presidential Palaces, seaports, airports, and airfields.

ATMIS also provides security to enable Humanitarian actors to deliver much-needed food and emergency relief items to communities in need and remote areas.

MEANWHILE:

The new force commander for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia has arrived in the country to take up his duties.
Lieutenant General Sam Okiding from Uganda has arrived in the capital Mogadishu on Sunday and immediately got down to work. General Okiding succeeds Lt. Gen. Diomede Ndegeya from Burundi who completed his tour of duty late last year.

He was officially received at the ATMIS Force Headquarters by the Deputy Force Commander in charge of Operations and Plans, Maj. Gen. Marius Ngendabanka, and other senior military officers.

“The most important thing is to support the Somali security forces in accordance with the CONOPS (Concept of Operations), the Somali Transition Plan and the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 2628 and 2670,” the new Force Commander observed.

Lt. Gen. Okiding pledged to work closely with all stakeholders to implement the Mission’s mandate of ensuring a smooth handover of security responsibilities to Somali Security Forces.

“All stakeholders will have to play a role in the transition process. My work is to give direction on the side of the military and I am confident that we shall all work together,” he explained.

Lt. Gen. Okiding, brings a wealth of experience to the mission spanning over 40 years, having joined the Uganda military in 1980. He is no stranger to Somalia, he previously served as the commander of Uganda troops in Somalia from November 2015 to January 2017.

Prior to his appointment as the ATMIS Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Okiding was the Deputy Commander of UPDF Land Forces.

Additionally, he has served in several operations in the region, including in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic.

A graduate in International Relations, Lt. Gen. Okiding has undertaken several military courses in peacekeeping operations, global terrorism, and International Humanitarian Law at national, regional, and international levels.

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