By Raymond Baguma
Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti has handed over as the overall force commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to Burundian Lieutenant General Silas Ntigurirwa.
Lt. Gen. Ntingurirwa from Burundi National Defense Forces (BNDF) on Monday took over command of the military component of AMISOM. The handover was presided over by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Ambassador Mahamat Saleh Annadif, took place in Mogadishu, according to an AU press statement.
The ceremony was also attended by Abdihakim Faqi, the Somali defence minister, Pontien Gaciyubwenge the Burundi minister of national defense and former combatants of Burundi who represented the Troop Contributing Countries to AMISOM.
Also present was Nicholas Kay the UN envoy for Somalia, Michelle Cervone the EU Special Envoy for Somalia and Sivuyile Bam the AU Head of Peace Support Division.
Ambassador Annadif congratulated the new commander and said that his experience and knowledge would be of great value to the international effort in restoring peace and stability in Somalia. He also thanked Lt. Gen. Gutti for his dedication to the mission during his tenure at the helm.
Lt. Gen. Gutti has been overall force commander of AMISOM since May 2012. AMISOM comprises of troops from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Djibouti, and Sierra Leone.
The statement said during Lt. Gen. Gutti’s leadership, AMISOM forces supporting the Somali National Army have registered significant achievements countrywide allowing political process to take place.
Lt. Gen. Gutti said “With the current set up I see Somalia gaining its former glory. Within the shortest time Somalia has been recognized by the international bodies, missions have come here for the first time and there are over 30 missions operating here now. I envision that this will continue and with the extra troops to be deployed, AMISOM will achieve much more.”
The statement said Lt. Gen. Ntingurirwa comes in at a time when the UN Security Council has approved an additional 4,400 troops for the mission, boosting its number from the current 17,731 to 22,196.