By AGGREY MUTAMBO

The European Union is demanding structural changes in the way the successor operation to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) will now operate, with a focus on rebuilding the country’s broken institutions.

Funding

Josep Borrell Fontelles, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said East Africa that the European bloc accepts that Somalia will be exposed if the mission were to leave without an adequate replacement.

But he suggested the EU will not fund the mission based on its old structure which focused on combat and troops on the ground with little attention to rebuilding institutions.

Amisom, the African Union’s counter-terrorism force, was established in 2007 and mandated by the UN Security Council to operate. But the European Union funds 90% of its operating budget.

In 2017, the EU cut funding, citing growing needs to fight terrorism beyond the Horn of Africa.

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Transition

The Mission is in the process of transition with discussions between Somalia and the African Union which have already resulted in an interim operation to help hand over security responsibilities to Somali security agencies after several years.

In March, the UN Security Council is expected to decide the fate of the Mission, possibly transforming it to give it a broader mandate.

“These efforts, financial effort on one side and military effort on the other, have not yielded enough results and I think Amisom needs to be reviewed,” Fontelles said in an interview on Saturday.

“We don’t want to give up on Somalia. We don’t want to stop funding Amisom, but we need to review how it works to ensure better results.

Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Djibouti contribute troops to Amisom. They had all asked for transformation into a multidimensional force, which Somalia refused. Somalia has also rejected the idea of ​​extending Amisom’s mandate beyond March.

Last week, the African Union proposed the establishment of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) which would have the same mandate as Amisom, but would function as a preparatory organization to assist in the transition so that Somalia can assume security functions in two years or more.

It was unclear whether they would continue to send troops.

ATMIS would have greater consistency between the troops, which Amisom lacked, including in disciplinary matters.

mission of peace

But the EU fears that continued military concentration will fail to address the causes of Somalia’s long-term insecurity, weak government institutions and few economic opportunities.

“If the ships (of Operation) Atalanta leave, piracy will come back quickly because the root cause unfortunately remains. If Amisom leaves Somalia, Somalia will hardly resist. So we need the effort of Africans and we have need financial support from the European Union, but this needs to be reviewed,” said Mr. Fontelles.

“We want an effective mission and we are discussing it and I hope we can find an agreement in order to continue to provide this financial support.”

He also referred to the anti-piracy mission carried out by the European Union since 2008 in the Somali Sea and the Gulf of Eden and which was previously called European Union Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR).

Somalia has demanded that the operation be halted so that the country can take over custody of its sea.

Contributors

ATMIS, which will need UN Security Council approval, may not have the same troop contributors, as each of the current forces will have to volunteer to join.

The transition mission will also draw troops from across the continent, although it is unclear if other countries could contribute. In the past, Sierra Leone contributed troops to Amisom but could not replace forces that had completed their tour of duty when West Africa experienced an Ebola outbreak.

Prior to Amisom’s transition, troop contributors had demanded assurances on funding, suggesting that the UN bear the cost of operations.

But sources had said East Africa that not all Council members with veto power (France, Russia, UK, US and China) were comfortable with such an arrangement as it could open an avalanche of demands to fund similar operations around the world.

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