Senior officials of the African Union, Somalia, and the United Nations have started consultative meetings to deliberate on the upcoming second phase of the troop drawdown in September, the AU mission said.
The AU Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis) is expected to scale down its troop numbers next month by a further 3,000 personnel after successfully withdrawing 2,000 troops and handing over six military bases in June.
Mohammed El-Amine Souef, the special representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and head of the Atmis, said a joint technical committee with its membership from the Atmis, the government, and the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) has been meeting to map out the military bases where the 3,000 troops will be drawn from.
"Since we have active combat operations ongoing, the planning of the drawdown must be well synchronized and seamlessly executed so the gains made thus far are not jeopardized," Souef said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Wednesday evening.
During the meeting held in Mogadishu, Souef lauded the UN and the government for their steadfast support and collaboration with the Atmis to ensure the success of the first phase.
Head of UNSOS Aisa Kirabo Kacyira told the technical committee to take into consideration the lessons learned from the first phase of the drawdown to ensure the success of the second phase.
"The UN will ensure the equipment and other facilities handed over to the Somali security forces by exiting Atmis troops are in good condition and the Somali forces are capacitated on how to use them," Kacyira said.
The UN body provides logistical support to the Atmis and Somali security forces in joint operations with the Atmis.
Under UN Security Council Resolution 2687 (2023), Somalia and the AU are required to conduct a technical assessment by the end of August to evaluate Phase One of the drawdown and provide a further update by September 15 on their preparations for the second phase.
The drawdowns are mandated by the UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 and 2670, which require the Atmis to gradually hand over security responsibilities to Somali security forces ahead of the exit from Somalia on December 31, 2024.
Somalia's National Security Adviser Hussein Sheikh Ali commended the AU and UNSOS for their continued support and reiterated the government's commitment to overseeing a successful handover of full security responsibilities to the Somali security forces when the Atmis exits Somalia in December 2024.