BAIDOA: The AMISOM family received a new member after Ethiopian forces officially joined the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia in January 22 as earlier approved by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2124 which authorized an additional force of over 4000 troops to bring the number of AMISOM peacekeepers in Somalia to over 22,126 strong force.
To symbolize the Ethiopian forces entry into AMISOM, the Force Commander (FC) Lt. General Silas Ntigurirwa pinned AU berets and armbands onto Ethiopian officers who removed their own berets signifying they were now formally AMISOM peacekeepers.
The few Ethiopian forces who were officially inducted into AMISOM included the new Sector 3 commander Brig. General Gebremedhin Fikadu Hailu together with a number of other Ethiopian soldiers who mounted a guard of honor for the AMISOM FC.
This is not the first time for Ethiopia, which borders Somalia on the west, to send its troops into the country, having done so on their own mandate but it is the first time for the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) to official join AMISOM and become the sixth African country to contribute to AMISOM in restoring peace and stability in the Horn of African Country.
A colorful ceremony was held for this special occasion in the city of Baidoa which is the tactical headquarters of sector 3 bringing together Bay, Bakool and Gedo regions where the over 4000 Ethiopian peacekeepers will now be in charge.
The event was attended by a host of leader including Senior AMISOM commanders, Ethiopian ambassador to Somalia Wondimu Asamnenu, the European Union ambassador to Somalia Michele Cervone d’Urso, Somalia Deputy Chief of Staff General Abdirisaq Khalif Hussein who was the representative of the Somalia government, local leaders and civil society members led by Bay governor Abdi Adan Hosow.
NEW YEAR RESPONSIBILITIES
The AMISOM FC congratulated the ENDF for joining AMISOM and told them they will be required to adhere to the AMISOM Rules of Engagement as well as all other standing procedures as stipulated in the African Union Mission in Somalia mandate. He also sought to remind the rest of AMISOM that the New Year comes with responsibilities to clear Somalia of the Al-Shabaab militant’s menace.
“The deployment of Ethiopia into AMISOM is a follow up of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2124 clearly clarified by the new Concept of Operation (CONOP) which we will implement as soon as possible. As per the new CONOPs, the newly deployed contingent takes over sector 3 and will work and operate under AMISOM Force Commander Instructions and orders,” Force Commander Lt. Gen. Silas said also thanking the outgoing commander Col John Luc Habarugira and all forces for a job well done .
According to the new AMISOM concept of operation, the Ethiopian forces are required to take over sector 3 and help in sector 4 where Djiboutian peacekeepers are in charge. The Burundian peacekeepers who were in Baidoa will move to Jowhar in lower Shabelle region where they will constitute the new sector 5. The Ugandans previously in Baidoa are expected to bolster their compatriots in sector 1 which is responsible for the greater Mogadishu or Banadir region.
The new AMISOM Sector 3 commander from Ethiopia promised the Force Commander and the Somalis of his forces full adherence to all AMISOM standard operating procedures and hopes their entry will bring much more successes to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
“I assure you that Ethiopia’s Defense Force will make a difference in AMISOM operation by clearing Al-Shabaab from sector 3 and 4 under the command of the force headquarters and completely implement AMISOM’s concept of operation in each of its military activities,” Brig. General Gebremedhin Fikadu Hailu, new AMISOM Sector 3 commander reiterated.