SRSG remarks at AMISOM Force Commander handover ceremony

16 Dec 2013

SRSG remarks at AMISOM Force Commander handover ceremony

Mogadishu – Your Excellency Minister of Defence of Somalia,

Your Excellency, Minister of National Defense of Burundi,

Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia,

Chief of Defence Forces of Somalia,


Ladies and Gentlemen

It is an enormous pleasure to be here and witness the handover ceremony of AMISOM force command.

I would like to touch upon four areas in my address: first, the African Union – United Nations partnership, second the AMISOM forces contribution, third some of General Gutti’s past achievements and lastly a welcome to the new Force Commander, General Silas Ntigurirwa.

Since my arrival in June 2013, I have been delivering a clear message to all UN staff in the country: it is one of my highest priorities to deepen and strengthen on the ground the partnership between the UN and AU. Ambassador Annadif and I agree that our teams should work hand in hand on a full range of tasks. But even before we arrived in theatre, General Gutti was driven by the same principle. I would like to commend him on his Force Commander partnership initiative that brings on a weekly basis together the AMISOM force HQ, UN family and partners to share information and brief each other on key tasks.

We have achieved much ever since and we will continue to build trust and collaboration among our colleagues both in Headquarters and in the sectors. The challenges in Somalia are so extensive that we shall only succeed if we share rather than divide the labour. Somalis need and deserve our collective effort.

I am deeply conscious of the immense contribution being made by the men and women in AMISOM to building peace in Somalia. We are all here because of the sacrifices made by brave AMISOM brothers and sisters and their Somali counterparts. Somalia has the once in a generation opportunity to rise from its ashes thanks to the commitment and dedication of the African Union troops. These efforts are not in vain. Every single one of you that finishes his or her rotation and is returning home can be proud of what AMISOM has achieved in Somalia. Certainly, in the UN we are very appreciative of the AMISOM forces continuous support to our staff security be it in the airport base or in our operations and missions outside our safety perimeter. To draw a recent example, my mission in Beledweyne two days ago would not have been possible without the help and support from AMISOM and the Djiboutian contingent.

And now a few words on General Gutti’s past achievements:

He has been in the driving seat of AMISOM’s operations for 19 months (since 2 May 2012).
He worked with the Somali security forces during some of the critical political moments of the country.
It was AMISOM forces who secured the airport for the current Federal Parliament of Somalia to be inaugurated, a day which marked the beginning of the end for the transition. It was AMISOM forces who helped secure the Parliamentary elections that brought the new political leadership of the country and with them a one-time generation opportunity for Somalia. AMISOM forces still provide their security services to the Government’s top leadership.
On the military front, General Gutti oversaw the “breakout” from Mogadishu, the progress through recovering Afgoye and the linkage to Baidoa. And of course the subsequent progress south to Merka and the recovery of Kismayo. General Gutti maintained the security and stability in the recovered areas over the last year.

I would like now to turn to the new Force Commander, General Silas Ntigurirwa.

It is an honour to welcome General Silas, an experienced commander who has served his national army in Burundi from different leadership posts and capacities. Burundi is the second biggest troop contributing country to AMISOM with 5.432 uniformed personnel. We welcome him now but he has been in Mogadishu for more than two weeks working hand in hand with General Gutti in order to prepare for this day. And he has lots of huge tasks ahead of him, mainly outlined in the most recent SC Resolution 2124.

General Silas arrives at a time that AMISOM force expects a capacity boost up to 22.124 personnel from 17.731 that will allow it to resume critical military operations against Al Shabaab and it will become the largest force in the world mandated by the UN Security Council; he also arrives at a time where more efforts are required for a stronger AMISOM command and control structure and a stronger coordination of contingents. He will also oversee enhanced joint operations with the Somali National Army.

The UN, through its UN Support Office for AMISOM will serve as an enabler and support for him. As SRSG I will be held accountable by the UN Security Council for all our work to support AMISOM and the SNA through implementation of Security Council Resolution 2124.

The AU and UN are already working hard to implement the 2124 including through revising the AMISOM’s strategy and drawing up a new Concept of Operations for military and police forces.

I agree fully with Mr. Bam, my African Union Commission friend and colleague:
Military, political and stabilization strategies must be fully synchronized under the leadership of the Federal Government to achieve tangible results. The new Force Commander will be a key player in Somalia’s complex and unique brand of international partnership. AMISOM represents a successful new approach to multilateralism entailing joint work by the AU, African countries, civilians and military, the European Union and UN – all in support of Somalia’s sovereign government and people. I look forward to having General Silas as a friend and colleague in Mogadishu.

I wish all the best to General Gutti as he returns home with his held head high and I wish all the success to General Silas.