The outgoing Force Commander of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), Lt. Gen. Diomede Ndegeya, has said the ongoing military offensive and the recovery of the towns and cities from Al Shabaab is a positive indication of the growing capabilities of the Somali National Army (SNA).
“Somali people need peace because they have suffered for far too long. I am pleased that beginning in September of this year, under the leadership of the new government, the local population have joined hands in the fight against Al-Shabaab. It is certain that there is political will to defeat terrorism in Somalia,” said Lt. Gen. Ndegeya, who has now completed his tour of duty after arriving in Somalia in August 2020 to take over from Lt. Gen. Tigabu Yilma of Ethiopia.
In his farewell message, Lt. Gen. Ndegeya said SNA’s ability to attack, defeat the enemy and hold ground was a critical indicator that it was growing into a force capable of taking full responsibility for national security and the protection of the country and its citizens.
During the tenure of Lt. Gen. Ndegeya, the African Union and the Federal Government of Somalia adopted a plan that put in motion the process to reconfigure the mission, under which some military Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in Afgoye, Marianguwaay and other areas were handed over to Somali authorities.
The handover of the bases was part of the implementation of a gradual but steady transfer of full security responsibilities to the Somali authorities under the Somalia Transition Plan, which is a process supported by the government of Somalia and its international partners.
The outgoing Force Commander hailed the support of the international community, with whom he forged a relationship of mutual understanding, for providing financial and logistical support to the AU troops.
“We wouldn’t be able to achieve much in Somalia without our partners. I thank them for their support and appeal to them to do more and not get fatigued,” he noted.
Lt. Gen. Ndegeya also noted that during his tenure, ATMIS established joint operations centres to enable ATMIS and the Somali security forces to plan joint operations and strengthen the command and control structures.
This collaboration played an important role in securing the election of 329 members of the Lower House and Upper House of Parliament early this year, and the election of the President on May 15 2022, in Mogadishu. With ATMIS and the Somali Security Forces working together, Somalia managed to hold what was, in the end, largely fair, peaceful, and credible elections.
At an earlier ceremony, the Acting Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Ms. Fiona Lortan, presented medals and certificates to other senior police and military officers who are soon to depart from the mission following the end of their tour of duty.
The officers included the Deputy Force Commander in charge of Support and Logistics, Maj. Gen. Gerbi Regassa Kebede, Deputy Force Commander in charge of Operations and Plans, Maj. Gen. Willian Shume, ATMIS Police Commissioner, AIGP Augustine Magnus Kailie, and the ATMIS Police Chief of Staff, Commissioner of Police Rex Dundun.
“I want to thank all of you, the Force Commander, the Police Commissioner, the two deputy Force Commanders, and the police leadership team. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to peace and security,” said Ms. Lortan.