The African Union Peacekeeping mission in Somalia will transition to ATMIS under a new framework agreed with the Somali federal government during a meeting held this week in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa as the mandate of AMISOM is set to expire within months.
ATMIS (AU Transitional Mission to Somalia) is tasked with consolidating gains made by AMISOM since 2007 and supporting Somali Transitional Plan by helping the war-torn country’s army fight the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabaab.
Under the new peacekeeping mission, AU troops will conduct joint operations with Somali army against Al-Shabaab to defeat the group, which now controls vast swathes of territory in the south and central regions of the country.
It comes days after US AFRICOM commander General Stephen Townsend blamed “inactivity from AMISOM” and power struggle between Somali leaders for the growing threat of Al-Shabaab.
ATMIS with military, police and civilian components will be led by a special representative to be named by the African Union chief Moussa Faki and its new commander will from the largest troop contributing country, according to the terms of a new agreement signed between the AU and Somali government.
African Union peacekeepers are to remain in the country by another 33 months in the course of which they are expected to take part in decisive military operations with the Somali army to drive militants out of the territory under their control and to transfer responsibility to the SNA in a gradual manner dependent on progress achieved.
AMISOM has been operating in Somalia since 2007 and the peacekeepers have since achieved dislodging Al-Shabaab from a number of major cities in the south of the country, but critics of the almost 15-year-long peacekeeping mission say it has fallen far short of its objectives in degrading the powerful Al-Qaeda-affiliate.