The AU Special Representative to Somalia and Head of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef and Somalia’s Federal Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Daud Aweis, have expressed satisfaction with the ongoing military offensive against Al-Shabaab.
The officials spoke during a joint press conference on Wednesday held at the ATMIS Mission Headquarters to brief the media on the implementation of ATMIS mandate and the progress made in restoring peace and security in Somalia.
Minister Daud announced that the Federal Parliament had already passed a National Act establishing the National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA) that will improve intelligence gathering and play a key role in the fight against Al-Shabaab.
In addition, he added, the Somali cabinet had approved a military cooperation deal between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the United Arab Emirates which will allow thousands of Somali troops to be trained in the Middle Eastern country.
“The government would also like to announce that huge progress has been made in weakening the financial strength of Al-Shabaab. We thank the people for supporting the government,” Minister Aweis observed.
The Minister noted that following the tremendous progress made in restoring peace and security, Somalia was now on the verge of taking its place in the international community.
He expressed optimism about Somalia joining the East African Community (EAC) following the successful conclusion of the verification process whose results will be tabled at the trade bloc’s next Heads of State Summit for a final decision.
“The verification team is optimistic that after the process in Mogadishu, the country was well prepared to become a full member of EAC,” the Federal Minister added.
Ambassador Souef welcomed the recently concluded Southwest State Reconciliation Conference and lauded H.E. President Dr Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and all stakeholders who participated in the Baidoa meetings.
The two senior officials commended ATMIS and Somali Security Forces for providing security during the reconciliation conference and ensuring that peace prevails.
“This is the kind of joint planning and collaboration we are seeking to forge that will enable us to transfer security responsibilities to Somali security forces by December 2024,” said Ambassador Souef.
The AU Envoy highlighted his recent engagements with various international partners and the United Nations Security Council on the progress made in securing Somalia and the challenges the Mission faces in implementing its mandate.
The two senior officials agreed to advance the case of Somalia during the upcoming African Union Annual Summit to be held in Addis Ababa from 15 -19 February, and reiterated the importance of close collaboration between ATMIS and FGS in eliminating Al Shabab and its allies.
“Al-Shabaab has not yet disappeared. We still have a lot of work to do and I am confident that the new partnership and resolve of the FGS will be critical in delivering more milestones,” Ambassador Souef added.
Ambassador Souef and Minister Aweis also called for the cessation of hostilities in Las Anood, Sool region and urged all stakeholders to embrace dialogue and find a lasting solution to the current political crisis