Somalia’s government signed a pact on ‘security architecture’ with its foreign backers at a London conference hosted by the British government on Thursday.
The pact presents a roadmap toward building a functional national army capable of taking on the fight against Al-Shabaab rebels during and after a withdrawal of African Union (AMISOM) forces, planned for 2018-2020.
Al-Shabaab rebels once controlled much of the country including the capital Mogadishu, but have been losing ground to AMISOM and Somali government forces.
The 17-page Security Pact incorporates text of a detailed agreement reached in April between Somalia’s fledgling federal government and its member states on how to unify their disparate forces into a national army and police force.
The London pact is not intended to be a binding agreement and does not create any obligations under international law. But it brings the support of 42 foreign governments and international bodies behind the April security plan. As such it marks a significant step toward building a consensus position on how to develop Somalia’s various security institutions.
But what does the plan actually look like? The Messenger explains:
Composition of forces
Somali National Army: The pact calls for an army of at least 18,000 people, excluding the Special Forces.
Somali Police: 32,000, divided into Federal Police and State Police. This figure also includes Coastguard and Darwish (rapid reaction police forces).
Somali Air Force: Number not determined.
Somali Maritime Forces/Navy: Number not determined.
Special Forces: Each army sector shall have 500 ‘Danab’ special forces, reporting not to the sector command but to the Danab Brigade HQ in Baledogle. There are currently eight army sectors, though the plan calls for the existing army sectors to be redrawn to align with Federal Member States’ boundaries, which are fewer in number. This means the number of Danab special forces would in the area of 3,000-4,000.
Relations between federal and state forces
Existing regional forces must become part of either the national army or state police, a process to be completed before the end of August this year.
The distribution of the agreed figure of 32,000 police between federal and state levels is still a matter of of contention. Likewise, federal and state politicians have yet to agree on how many should be of the heavier ‘Darwish’ type.
The Darwish elements of the state-level police will work with the army ‘in times of national crisis’ and serve as a reserve force that can be activated as deemed necessary.
The process of redistributing troops among federal and state forces will be facilitated by a ‘National Integration Commission,’ which shall include regional states’ representatives.
Somalia’s federal government will pay for the salaries and support of the army, but the federal states will be responsible for the salaries and support of the stat-level police. However, the pact says that “there shall be a Federal financial responsibility to support sections of State-Level Police that are engaged in active operations against internal threats.”
Command and control
The President of the Federal Government of Somalia will serve as the Commander in Chief and Chair of the National Security Council.
The National Security Council will include the Federal Member States’ presidents, the Prime Minister, Ministers for Internal Security, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Justice, Defence and Finance, and the Governor of Banadir Region (mayor of Mogadishu).
While the National Security Council will handle policy and strategic matters, the Regional Security Councils will enforce implementation. The Regional Security Councils will be chaired by Federal Member States’ presidents and will include the Somali National Army sector commanders and the state-level security departments.
Foreign donors will make specific funding commitments at a follow-up conference in October 2017.
The Somali government intends to present foreign donors with “a financing strategy for the agreed national security architecture.” This strategy is supposed to come in line with international studies such as the World Bank/UN “Security & Justice Public Expenditure Review.”
The plan is expected to include details on how to address corruption and “maximise value for money within the security sector.”
AMISOM will conduct a “conditions-based” withdrawal from Somalia starting in late 2018. The withdrawal will depend on progress in setting up the Somali security institutions.
The UN and African Union, together with Somalia’s government, are currently reviewing the AMISOM mission and by end June are expected to finish their review and make recommendations on the African troops’ future role in the country. The study will be considered by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) and UN Security Council ahead of AMISOM’s mandate renewal later this year.
The full text of the Security Pact is available here.
The Messenger is dedicated to expository and investigative journalism throughout East Africa. To support us and our journalistic mission sign up for our newsletter (free) or support us financially through Patreon.