Sunday January 22, 2023
The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Mohammed El-Amine Souef (right) and Somalia's State Minister of Defence Abdinur Dahir Fidow (left) signing the land lease agreement documents during the official handover of Maslah Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 21 January 2023. ATMIS Photo / Mukhtar Nuur
Mogadishu (HOL) - The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) completed the handover of an army base it occupied for over a decade to Somalia's federal government on Saturday, marking the first time a military facility was transferred to Somalia since ATMIS's inception in April 2022.
The handover ceremony for Maslah Forward Operating Base (FOB) was attended by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and Head of ATMIS Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef and Somalia's State Minister for Defence, Abdinur Daahir Fidow at a ceremony held in the capital, Mogadishu.
that El-Amine Souef and Fidow signed a land lease agreement formalizing the handover.
"The handover is in line with the joint Concept of Operations (CONOPs) and the Somali Transition Plan – developed by the Federal Government of Somalia, ATMIS, the UN and development partners to guide the transition process."
"The official handover follows the departure of the ATMIS Burundi contingent and subsequent takeover of the facility by the Somali National Army on January 15. Ambassador Souef emphasized the key role the FOB has played in securing the capital, Mogadishu, and facilitating the Mission's military operations."
At the handover ceremony, Somalia's State Minister for Defence said the transition comes when the Federal Government has intensified military operations against Al Shabab in central and south Somalia.
"Huge military gains have been achieved in the past few months, and we are keen to double the current efforts and count on your support in eradicating the Al-Shabaab," Mr. Fidow said, reiterating Somalia's commitment to the transition process.
Brig. Gen. Peter Omola, the acting ATMIS Force Commander, said the FOB served as a significant deterrent to terrorist attacks by Al Shabab.
"I have no doubt that our SNA brothers who have taken over the FOB are equal to the task ahead of them. ATMIS forces remain ready to partner with SSF (Somali Security Forces) in furtherance of core security ideals in the Hirshabelle region and Somalia in general," Brig. Gen. Omola said.
Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef stressed the strategic importance of the base to Somalia's military objectives.
"Geographically, it has also enabled our troops to secure the major supply route (MSR) connecting Mogadishu and the hinterland hence ensuring the safe and secure movement of goods and services, which is important for both economic and social development of this country," he observed.
"Today is a proud moment for us as a Mission. Maslah is the first facility to be handed over by ATMIS since its inception in April 1, 2022, following the end of the AMISOM mandate."
AMISOM (AU Mission in Somalia) was reconfigured
to ATMIS in April 2022 with UN Security Council authorization
. Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti are the troop-contributing countries.
Last month, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted
a resolution to extend
the drawdown by six months at the African Union's request
. The first reduction of troops was rescheduled to June 30, 2023. The UN said it was committed to maintaining the ATMIS exit date of December 31, 2024.