The AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has got a much needed boost, after the European Union signed a 15th contract to provide financial support to the African Union (AU) peace keeping mission.
AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ambassador Smail Chergui signed on Wednesday on behalf of the African Union. The EU is offering 178 million euros ($199.6 million).
According to an AU statement, the latest contract covers the period from January 1 to 30th September 30 2016. The EU fund will be used to cover allowances for AMISOM troops and police, international and local civilian staff salaries, as well as operational costs of the mission.
“The African Union welcomes this encouraging development which is the result of the continuous and fruitful consultations between AU and EU on the enhancement of the logistical and financial support to AMISOM,” Smail Chergui said.
“It should be reiterated that this renewed financial support to AMISOM comes at a critical moment when AMISOM is engaged in major offensive operations and the preparation of the elections in Somalia.”
The mission has been struggling with funding since the EU, a major donor to the Somalia mission, cut its financial support by 20 percent in January saying African countries must bear more of the burden of soldier salaries. Soon afterwards Kenya threatened to withdraw its 3,700 troops in protest while Uganda stated it is on schedule to withdraw next year.
— Amb. Smail Chergui (@AU_Chergui) September 23, 2016
“We plan to disengage from Somalia beginning December 2017,” said Uganda’s chief of defence forces General Katumba Wamala recently.
“It’s a decision Uganda is taking and the key actors are informed on the way forward,” he said.
Uganda is the largest contributor to an African Union mission fighting jihadists in Somali.
Uganda was the first country to send soldiers to Somalia, spearheading the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in March 2007 to fight Shabaab insurgents and protect the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.
Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya have since joined up and the 22,100-strong mission has 6,200 Ugandan soldiers.
Uganda has made similar threats in the past. In 2012 it failed to follow through on a threat to pull out of all peacekeeping missions after UN investigators accused it of backing rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
IGAD this month held a historic meeting in Somalia, with President Yoweri Museveni attending and visiting the AMISOM troops.
The one-day summit was held in the Somali capital Mogadishu, which was hosting a top-level African gathering for the first time in more than four decades.
It was the first held there of the IGAD trade bloc since its creation in 1986.
The IGAD meeting in the Somali capital, which has come under repeated attack by the Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-aligned militant group, brought together the presidents of Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and the Ethiopian prime minister.