Somalia in massive military recruitment as ATMIS exit beckons

Somali PM Hamza Abdi Barre

Somali PM Hamza Abdi Barre addressing the audience at General Kahiye Police Academy in Mogadishu on 17 June, 2023

Photo credit: Pool

Somalia added 23,000 new employees to its public service workforce, reflecting a gradual reconstruction of a country battered by violence in the last two decades.

But the bulk of the new employees will be in the security sector as the country considers rebuilding its military and other security services ahead of the departure of an African Union mission due from end of next year.

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre announced on Saturday that his government recruited these talents in the last one year, focusing on gaps that had crippled the public service.

Mr Barre has been in office for the last one year, having been appointed by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud who was re-elected to office last year in May, having been voted out four years earlier.

According to a status report read by Mr Barre, some 3,000 of the new employees are teachers while the rest are soldiers recruited and trained to take over the security responsibility as the African Union peacekeepers under the auspices of African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) depart by end of 2024.

He spoke at a ceremony to launch a a training programme for the new 3,000 recruited teachers at General Kahiye Police Academy in Mogadishu.

In the presence of Education Minister Farah Sheikh Abdulkadir, PM Barre underlined the importance of education in a society recovering from setbacks, especially its security and economic development.

Barre urged the new teachers to produce students that are proper Muslims that do not explode themselves and who care for Somalia without clan allegiance. He stressed the educators to generate students who are free from graft, armed with good education and who can operate with peers across the world.

The premier told the audience at Gen. Kahiye Academy’s hall, “Allocating resource to recruit 3,000 teachers proved very difficult for my administration. But, our Dan-Qaran (National Interest) government had decided to take up 20,000 force and 3,000 educators, the soldiers replacing ATMIS peacekeepers.”

According to Somalia Transition Plan (STP), Somali government forces are expected to take over security responsibility as ATMIS, the African Union Transition Mission, peacekeepers leave the Horn of Africa country at the beginning of 2025. 

Somalia has also signaled it will pitch for a lifting of a three-decade old arms embargo that has prevented it from directly purchasing arms. This week, the UN Security Council is expected to discuss whether toe extend the embargo and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is expected to address the Council and argue for his country’s release from the restrictions.

First imposed in 1993, the regime of arms embargo has morphed through the years from the initial target of  preventing arms going to warlords to preventing those arms from reaching al-Shabaab militants. Somalia argues it needs to train its security forces and equip them properly to deal with the militants challenges. But arms allowed for Somali forces have in the past filtered to Shabaabs, indicating corrupt dealings.      

 Somali elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on 15th of May 2022 and he appointed Hamza Abdi Barre prime minister on 15th of June 2022, exactly a month later.