The United Nations (UN) has authorized the Member States of the African Union (AU) to maintain the deployment of 19,626 uniformed AMISOM personnel until 28 February 2021. This comes just days after a whistleblower reported that since 2016, AMISOM has been plagued by huge management and leadership challenges that have seriously constrained its capacity to effectively implement its mandate.
According to the UN resolution, the Amisom force will also have of a minimum of 1,040 police personnel including five Formed Police Units, to support security preparations for elections due at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, and to conduct tasks in line with an updated Somali-led Transition Plan and the handover of security to Somali security forces.
The force’s mandate expired on May 27.
Amisom was told to conduct a gradual handing over of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security forces with the aim of Somali security institutions taking the lead by 2021; reduce the threat posed by Al Shabaab and other armed opposition groups with a view to enabling a stable, federal, sovereign and united Somalia; and assist the Somali security forces to provide security for the political process at all levels, stabilisation efforts, reconciliation, and peacebuilding, and provide relevant support to Somali police and authorities to create a secure environment in the build up to elections with the aim of fully handing over security responsibility to Somali security institutions.
While Amisom has been praised for restoring peace and stability to the war-torn country, a whistleblower has called for an overhaul of its leadership.
“Upon taking over as Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) and Head of AMISOM in January 2016, Amb. Madeira introduced an erratic management and leadership style, characterised by fear, suspicion, threats, corruption, favouritism, demeaning, bullying and intimidation,” said the whistleblower.
“This has created a toxic climate in the mission that has in turn stifled the delivery of the mandate.”
Contacted for comment on Monday afternoon, Uganda’s Defence spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire observed: “We welcome the resolution ìn as far as it fully recognises the continued relevance of AMISOM in ensuring sustainable stability in Somalia and the commitment to continue supporting the deployed forces.”
He further said the claims against the AMISOM top leadership must be addressed.
“Regarding issues at the AMISOM headquarters that have been flying out in the media, we expect the AU Commission in Addis Ababa to address them so that they do not slow down or impede the execution of priorities and tasks given out under UNSC 2520(2020),” he added.
The whistleblower said by undertaking actions and positions that are partisan or perceived to be partisan, Amb. Madeira has compromised AMISOM’s integrity, neutrality and independence, making it difficult for the mission to leverage his good offices to support the political process in Somalia.
This situation came at a time when Somalis are increasingly questioning AMISOM’s continued relevance in Somalia and when there are discussions among international partners to replace AMISOM with a successor or “follow-on force”.
AMISOM has since denied the accusations as false and misleading.
However, Madeira also is accused of managing the fund as his personal preserve and refusing to authorise its use to support AMISOM staff even in emergency situations.
For example, following the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, AMISOM female peacekeepers complained of lack of sanitary pads due to the closure of shops within and close to the AMISOM base camps in Mogadishu and in the Sectors, as part of lockdown measures to contain the virus.
As a result, the Protection Human Rights and Gender (PHRG) Unit prepared and submitted an urgent memo to the SRCC on 20 April 2020 requesting for his approval for ARC funds to be used, exceptionally, to procure sanitary pads from Nairobi and provide to the over 1000 AMISOM female peacekeepers.
Regrettably, said the whistleblower, about a month after the submission of the request, the SRCC had not approved it.
The SRCC is accused of showing no empathy towards staff and appreciation for their great work and accomplishments, in spite of the fact that AMISOM civilian component is operating far below its approved staffing level.
“And instead of working hard to ensure the AUC hires and deploys more staff to the mission, Amb. Madeira frequently attacks, berates, mocks and humiliates the staff, including during official meetings. As was demonstrated in my 7 May 2020 complaint, the SRCC has gone to great lengths trying to leverage and weaponise his office to seek retaliatory and punitive transfers against staff members he does not like to work with,” said the whistleblower.
Uganda, the first country to deploy forces in Somalia, maintains 5,579 troops in the troubled vast country.
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