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Comorian diplomat replaces Madeira as AU Special Representative in Somalia

Sunday September 4, 2022

Comoros Foreign Minister Mohamed El-Amine Souef attends the opening session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images

Mogadishu (HOL) - The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki Mahamat has appointed Former Comorian minister and diplomat Ambassador Mohammed El-Amine Souef as his Special Representative to Somalia and Head of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

Souef's appointment comes five months after his predecessor, Mozambican Francisco Madeira, was ordered to leave Somalia unceremoniously by Somalia's Prime Minister for "engaging in acts that are incompatible with his status."

This new appointment was made effective on September 1, 2022.

Souef, a 60-year-old veteran diplomat, was the former Comoros Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. He also served as the Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Regional Office in Gao and the Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

The African Union said Souef's mandate would be to support the work with Somalia's federal government and stakeholders in implementing the transitional security plan, which will replace African Union forces with Somali soldiers. Souef will work closely with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and other international partners, including the UN and EU.

Former special representative Francisco Madeira was expelled from Somalia at the height of the political crisis in 2021 and just days after the UN Security Council authorized a new AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) to operate until the end of 2024.

Days before his expulsion, an audio tape of Ambassador Madeira surfaced in which he appeared to accuse opposition figures of politicizing the murder of MP Amina Mohamed. According to sources within the Prime Minister's office, it played a significant role in the ambassador's removal.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo, locked in a power struggle with his PM, immediately rejected Madeira's expulsion, arguing that the PM did not have the authority to dismiss diplomats.

The chairperson of the commission of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, also spoke out in defence of Madeira, saying that he had his complete trust and confidence.

Following the end of the AMISOM mandate, the UN's new AU Transition Mission in Somalia was authorized on April 1, 2022. Its primary goal is to reduce the threat posed by Al Shabaab and transfer full security responsibility to Somalia by 2024.

ATMIS will have 19,626 personnel, including at least 1,040 police officers. It will remain in the country until December 2022, at which point it will be reduced by 2,000 troops. The troop reductions will continue in September 2023 and June 2024, by 2,000 troops each time, until the mission concludes in December 2024.

Somalia must have at least 22,825 forces ready to replace ATMIS by June 2024.


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