AU reviews preparedness of forces in Somalia

MOGADISHU — An Africa Union team is in Somalia to assess its troops’ preparedness to ward off terror threats from Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab.

Major General Francis Okello, who led the delegation from the AU’s Peace Support Operations Division, said the team is carrying out an assessment on the state of its forces serving under the AU mandate to identify areas that need urgent support from the pan-African body.

“Our visit here is to find out the preparedness of troops to support this political process,” Okello said in a statement released on Sunday in Mogadishu.

“The second key aspect of the visit is: as you are aware last year in August, AMISOM and the African Union headquarters produced a new Concepts of Operations (CONOPs) and this visit is to find out how that CONOPs, in support with the political process in Somalia is unfolding,” he added.

The AU team wanted to find out how AMISOM planned to implement the revised CONOPS that was endorsed by the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting in September last year.

The revised CONOPS for AMISOM aims to create and preserve an enabling environment for the unfolding political, peace and reconciliation processes in Somalia.

According to Okello, the team also reviewed ways of assisting Somali security institutions alongside AMISOM troops in order to execute their mandate of keeping the country safe and warding off threats posed by Al-Shabaab and other armed militant groups.

The visit further evaluated the pan African body’s readiness for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled later this year.

“At the end of this visit, we are going to give a feedback to people who make the decisions and actions that we need to take at our level as managers of the Mission, to support the Mission, to support Somalia to help realise lasting peace and stability in Somalia,” said the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Crowd Chirenje, a member of the visiting AU delegation.

AMISOM which crossed into the Horn of the African nation in 2007 comprise troops from countries including Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. Its troops recently registered a string of successes against Al-Shabaab militia who had seized much of the central and southern Somalia.  – Xinhua

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