Premium Journalist
2 minute read
20 Mar 2019
2:54 pm

Mogadishu jittery about withdrawal of AU troops


Kenyan Defence Forces have already started withdrawing their men.

A heavy equipment loader cleans debris outside the Maka Al-Mukarama hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, one day after a deadly suicide car bombing. AFP/Abdirazak Hussein FARAH

Mogadishu is growing jittery about the planned withdrawal of African Mission in Somalia (Amisom) troops from Somalia, according to a report on Wednesday.

On February 16, Amisom commanders met in the Somali capital to agree on a plan to execute the mission’s new Concept of Operations (Conops), a document that provides a framework for implementing the African Union (AU) troops’ gradual transition and final exit from Somalia, the East African reported.

The drawdown is part of a United Nations (UN) cutback on peacekeeping forces due to lack of funds because of member states either being in arrears or cutting back their annual contributions.

The move has angered some African countries who’ve threatened to pull all their troops out of the peacekeeping missions, arguing that more peacekeepers are needed to defeat militant group Al Shabaab.

Despite the militants being driven out of the Somali capital several years ago, they’ve managed to regroup in rural areas where they continue to launch attacks both there and in Mogadishu.

Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) has already started withdrawing their men. On Tuesday the Busar military base, in the northern sector Jubaland, was evacuated. Jubaland was liberated from militant group Al Shabaab 100 days after the KDF entered Somalia.

However, Busar, which is in Gedo region, is also where KDF recorded their greatest loss in history during the 2016 El Adde attack, in which about 200 soldiers died. Tuesday’s evacuation followed the pullout of Kenyan troops from other bases including Bardera, El Adde, Taraka, and Fafadun.

Somali leaders have questioned the KDF withdrawal saying that the evacuation will further expose the Horn of Africa country to Al Shabaab threats.

The Kenyan military meanwhile has refused to be drawn on the reasons for the evacuation of the military bases, saying the reasons were classified.

But according to military and diplomatic circles, one of the reasons is the shortage of UN funds for peacekeepers has made logistics, including moving troops and supplies over a vast area, near impossible.

The second reason the experts advanced was political, including the recent diplomatic spat between Kenya and Somalia over their maritime border and the oil blocks in the disputed area.

– African News Agency

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.