The African Union (AU) at its 608th meeting asked Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to honour their pledged air assets and deployment of additional force enablers to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Through a statement by the Peace and Security Council, seen by the Star on Wednesday, the AU said prolonged negotiations between the UN and the Troop and Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCs) should be finalised to facilitate the deployment of these air assets.
Accordingly, the council reiterated its call for the urgent finalisation of the negotiations on the LOAs (letters of assistance), without further delay, taking into account that “reimbursement rates for these assets should be commensurate with the context of Amisom asymmetrical operations”.
During the PSC’s 595th meeting held in Addis Ababa, on April 28, the council had raised a red flag over the delay in delivery of the assets especially at the current critical period for the mission and upcoming elections in Somalia.
In February, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia offered to supply helicopters for troops fighting under the Amisom in the fight against al Shabaab.
Troop-contributing countries to the AU’s mission in Somalia were required to deploy their own equipment, while a lack of air support has been highlighted as one of the mission’s major weaknesses in recent years in the operation.
Reports earlier suggested nine utility helicopters would be supplied between Kenya and Ethiopia, in addition to three attack helicopters.
The choppers would be the first major contribution to the AMISOM’s airforce since Uganda pulled out of supplying four helicopters in 2012, after three of them crashed in Mt Kenya.
The PSCU also expressed concern about the recent decision by the European Union (EU) to alter payment procedures for the Burundian National Defence Force contingent within AMISOM, bearing in mind the critical phase of the operations especially in light of the upcoming elections in Somalia.
The EU recently reduced the budget to the mission by 20 per cent because of financial constraints and “competing priorities in Africa and the world in general”.
Consequently, PSCU urged the EU to “reverse or at least delay the implementation of this decision in order to avoid possible adverse effects that could undermine the mission’s operational momentum”.
Meanwhile, two paragraphs of the AU Peace and Security Council discussed a revised plan which foresees 2018 to 2020 to become a phased transfer phase of the security responsibilities to the Somalia National and Security Forces (SNSF), as follows:
“5. Emphasises the need to align the current political developments in Somalia with efforts to develop a capable, inclusive and effective Somalia National and Security Forces (SNSF), in line with the security strategy outlined in the revised Concept of Operations (CONOPs). Accordingly, Council reiterates the need for the international community to promote greater coordination and cooperation through the AU, in the collective efforts to achieve a more deliberate and effective approach in building the capacity of the SNSF. In this regard, Council urges the UN Security Council to lift the arms embargo imposed on Somalia as contained in UNSC resolution 2244 (2015), as a critical aspect of building capable Somalia security institutions;
6. Commends the efforts of the AU Commission for having convened the workshop that revised the AMISOM CONOPs in line with the communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.2(DXCV) of its 595th meeting held on 28 April 2015. In this respect, Council takes note of the Meeting of the Military Operations Coordination Committee (MOCC), which was held in Kampala, Uganda, on 22 June 2016, that deliberated and endorsed the main recommendations of the revised CONOPs”.