African Union to Meet Over Somalia

The African Union Commission will next week meet in Addis Ababa to examine the achievement of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the challenges ahead.

The meeting to be held on August 17 and 18 will be attended by officials from AU troop contributing countries of Uganda and Burundi, and AU member countries that pledged to send troops but have not yet. Also present will be IGAD, UN and EU officials.

“The meeting is expected to identify the concrete steps that need to be taken in the coming months in order to avail AMISOM a support commensurate with the challenges at hand,” the AU said on Wednesday.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Jean Ping hailed the AMISOM peacekeepers and TFG forces for their commitment and courage in dealing with Al Shabab and expelling them from Mogadishu.

“This development marks a significant step in the efforts being deployed to secure Mogadishu, extend the authority of the TFG, and create conditions conducive for the pursuit and deepening of the national reconciliation process,” Ping said.

He asked the UN to expand its support to AMISOM which would boost the performance of AMISOM and enable it to implement its mandate. Ping said the expulsion of Al-Shabaab would ease delivery of humanitarian aid to starving Somalis.

“The successes achieved since the offensive launched by AMISOM and TFG forces last February are a clear demonstration that defeating the Muslim extremist elements holding the Somali people at ransom is within reach.

Meanwhile, the Former AMISOM force commander Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha has been awarded an AU peacekeeping medal in recognition of his good service, commitment and gallantry.

Last Friday, Maj. Gen Nathan Mugisha officially handed over to the incoming commander Maj. Gen Fred Mugisha during a ceremony at the AMISOM Forward Headquarters, in Mogadishu.

Present were an AU Commission delegation led by El Ghassim Wane, the director of peace and security department, officials of AMISOM, Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA).

Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha had commanded AMISOM since 2009; but remains in Mogadishu as the deputy ambassador to Somalia. A statement from AMISOM said during his tenure, the Somali TFG forces had registered significant achievements, including extending the TFG authority in Mogadishu.

The outgoing commander was lauded for the significant progress made in containing Al-Shabaab, and capturing key strategic positions in Mogadishu which has resulted into relative stability.

According to an AMISOM statement, the new force commander, Maj. Gen Fred Mugisha vowed build on his predecessor’s accomplishments to bring stability to Somalia and the region.

The UPDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye who was in Mogadishu recently said the city has transformed with people moving freely, soldiers and civilians are walking about without bullet-proof jackets.