The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) announced on Tuesday that it is to withdraw 1,000 soldiers from Somalia by the end of this year, Anadolu has reported. The Special Representative of the African Union Chairperson for Somalia said that the withdrawal of AMISOM troops would be "gradual".
"AMISOM has begun its drawdown from Somalia and will have its troop numbers reduced by 1,000 by 31 December," Francisco Madeira told a press conference in Mogadishu. "Our drawdown and transition must be gradual, conditions-based, responsible and done in a manner that does not compromise the safety and security of the Somali people."
Madeira stressed the importance of unity between the people and the military in Somalia against terror, "Because the military alone cannot beat the fanatics." He called for the Somali people to unite with the security forces to get rid of Al-Shabab movement.
"This is a process of realignment to effect the reduction in numbers and also begin the handover process of national security responsibilities to the Somali national security forces," the African Union official explained. "We will exit this place when the SNA [Somali National Army] is ready to take over, when the SNA feel that we can now leave… I want to assure all that this exercise is being conducted with caution to ensure that the security of the Somali people is not compromised."
Madeira said that as part of the military drawdown, the pan-African body will deploy an extra 500 police officers who will strengthen training and mentoring for the Somali Police. "The deployment of additional police officers will help extend law and order in Somalia, hence further secure the country," he added.
AMISOM, which was formed by a UN Security Council resolution, has been helping the Somali military in its fight against Al-Shabab since 2007.