Lieutenant General Silas Ntigurirwa of the Burundi National Defense Force (BNDF) has today taken over command of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as it emerges that Ethiopian troops will be joining the force.
He takes over from Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti from the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF), who has today handed over command of the 17,731 troops.
He comes in at a time when the force expects reinforcement, following a resolution by the United Nations Security Council that approved an additional 4,400 troops for the mission, bringing the numbers to 22,131.
Speaking during the handover ceremony held in the Somali Capital Mogadishu today, the outgoing Force Commander Lt. Gen. Andrew Gutti listed some of his achievements as including enabling the political situation in Somalia, facilitating the growing economic activity and being able to maintain relative peace in the country. He however noted that the force continues to face major hurdles and the job at hand is far from over.
“Am convinced that what we are doing shall be put on the right side of history for the future generations to read and judge. I pay tribute to the deceased comrades and those that got injured. The sweat, blood and human lives invested in Somalia shall never and never go down in vain. A milestone has been covered yet the bigger job awaits, therefore there is still unfinished business,” he stated.
Lt. Gen. Silas Ntigurirwa new AMISOM commander called for fast implementation of the recent UN resolution 2124 to boost troop numbers and logistical support including air support and armoured vehicles, among other assets.
“With this promise of additional support, AMISOM will be able to expand its area of responsibilities to liberate other locations which are currently in the hands of al Shabaab. Because of this, let us stand up strongly until this country becomes safe, and peaceful. Finally, I accept officially, on behalf of the Republic of Burundi and on my own behalf, the AMISOM command,” he asserted.
The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Mahamat Saleh Annadif commended the outgoing commander for a job well done, calling for fast implementation of the UN resolution, to have troop numbers boosted. Ambassador Annadif also confirmed that Ethiopian troops are to be incorporated into the AMISOM force.
“We have also achieved an increase in troop numbers and in logistical support to Somali National forces, our main field partners. The other good news is that Ethiopian troops will join AMISOM,” he noted.
Currently, the strength of the AMISOM force military component comprises of 5,432 from Burundi, 1000 from Djibouti, 3664 from Kenya, 850 from Sierra Leone and 6223 from Uganda.
Born in 1968, Lt. Gen. Silas Ntigurirwa brings vast experience from the Burundian army, in which he has served in different capacities, with the last posting being the Permanent Secretary in the country’s Ministry of National Defense and Former Combatants.
He is the 6th commander of AMISOM since its establishment in 2007 and becomes the first non-Ugandan to take over command of the force.
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CREDIT: AU/UN IST