Troop contributing countries to the African Union Mission in Somalia are raising a new storm over delayed financial and logistical support to the forces meant to stabilise the Horn of Africa country.
In a stormy meeting with donors in Addis Ababa on Friday, the countries first opposed the European Union decision to pay Burundian soldiers directly, then warned of an “appropriate decision in due course” if further delays in payment occurred.
“MOCC Strongly rejects the recent decision by the EU to differentiate its payment procedure to the Burundian National Defence Force (BNDF) contingent in Somalia,” the military chiefs said in a statement on Saturday.
Known as the Military Operations Coordination Committee (MOCC), the meeting brought together Kenya’s Defence Chief Samson Mwathethe, Ethiopia’s Samora Muhammad Yunis, and Zakaria Cheikh Ibrahim of Djibouti.
Uganda’s UPDF boss Katumba Wamala was represented by the country’s Commander of Land Forces David Muhoozi. These countries have sent a total of 22,000 soldiers to Amisom.
While the military bosses are incensed by the decision by EU to pay allowances directly to the 5,432 Burundi soldiers in Amisom arguing it would lower their morale.
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has been on the radar of EU since last year when the European bloc refused to observe or acknowledge his controversial re-election amid claims he was ineligible to contest.
The EU, which has been the main sponsor of the Amisom since 2007 took the decision in a bid to avoid payments to soldiers being diverted to the Burundi Presidency.
“The deployment of the BNDF is within the context of an AU deployment and there should be non-discrimination in the payment to all TCCs; (MOCC) recalls the sacrifices being paid by the forces on the ground and, encourages the EU to urgently consider modalities for reversing this decision, which could have far-reaching negative consequences on Amisom operations and the overall security gains achieved in Somalia,” the countries argued.
Soldiers are paid a mission allowance of $1,028 (Sh103, 828) a month with no other allowances. Sending governments may deduct an ‘administration’ fee from their pay before finally remitting the balance to them. For KDF, the government then deducts an administration cost of $200 (Sh20, 200), meaning each soldier takes home $828 (Sh83, 628) a month.
The meeting chaired by AU Commissioner for peace and Security Smail Chergui was also attended by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia Francisco Madeira and New head of EU delegation to the European Union (EU) Ranieri Sabatucci and representatives from the UN, US and the UK.
Here, the military chiefs asked for funding for an additional 4,000 troops, to bolster the existing Amisom Forces as well as key combat and stabilisation support to enable Amisom and the Somali National Security Forces to conduct operations in Jubba Valley, Hiraan and the North eastern coastline of Somalia thought to havens for al-Shabaab and pirates.
“The continued delay in the provision of requisite resources, equipment and logistics to AMISOM, may force the TCCs [troop contributing countries] to take appropriate decision, in due course.”
Amisom which was created in 2007 to stabilise Somalia has largely region depended on donors for financial support through EU’s Africa Peace Facility (APF).
FINANCED FROM MEMBER CONTRIBUTIONS
In spite of calls from the AU to have its peace missions financed from member contributions, there has been little. At an Ordinary Summit in South Africa last year, AU member countries endorsed a revised policy to increase African financing of AU led peace support operations to 25 per cent by 2020, starting this year.
But the countries have been sluggish in implementing that policy. Yet Amisom to a large extent, depends on predictable funding.
The Somali Mission meant to stabilise the government in Mogadishu and fight extremists has benefited with €1.1 billion covering allowances for all the troops, salaries, allowances for the police component, international and local civilian staff, as well as operational costs of the mission’s civilian office in Nairobi.
But APF, established in 2003 to respond to an African request to support its peace and security agenda, has also supported security missions in other parts of Africa such as in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Somalia and the Comoros.
In January, this year, the EU reduced its financial contribution to Amisom by 20 per cent, meaning that European Union would give €20 million (Sh224 million) every month up to June this year.
Even that pay was delayed as the two sides engaged in protracted talks. In September, AU and EU signed an agreement to have Amisom receive their allowances for the past nine months from the €178 million (Sh20.16 billion) boost from the European bloc.
Amisom requires about $300 million a month Sh30 billion to run its operations.