The African Union Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM Amb. Maman S. Sidikou held a press conference in Nairobi today addressing the 31st July 2015 Incident in Marka, Lower Shabelle Region of Somalia where according to Human Rights Watch Ugandan army troops in AMISOM allegedly killed six men at a wedding.
“You would recall that we issued a statement on the 4th of August in which we stated that the officer in charge of the troop detachment was recalled for questioning as a prelude to a possible further investigation”. Amb. Sidikou said.
“Indeed, we have established that, on that occasion, seven civilians died following an incident involving our troops”. Amb. Sidikou added.
Amb. Maman S. Sidikou at that juncture gave his sincere apologies for the deaths on behalf of the African Union. He said the AU regrets those deaths. Amb. Maman S. Sidikou also offered sincere and profound condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, and indeed to the people and the Federal Government of Somalia.
Amb. Maman S. Sidikou said they established that there was a credible (prima facie) basis for a further and thorough investigation of the allegations and that they instituted a process of investigations to establish further facts into the circumstances that led to this tragic incident.
Amb. Maman S. Sidikou said the process has already established the fact that seven persons died and it is in that regard that three AMISOM personnel have been indicted and are awaiting to be arraigned before a military judicial process.
“I would like to commend the commanders for taking appropriate and responsive action in dealing with this matter in line with the Mission’s conduct and discipline procedures.Furthermore, to establish any additional culpability, I have instituted a Board of Inquiry composed of military, civilian and police officers who are not from the Contingent concerned in order to ensure impartiality”. Amb. Maman S. Sidikou said.
“The investigating board will work closely with the local community leaders, the regional administration and the Federal Government. The board will also conduct its work in a transparent manner and will guarantee confidentiality and safety of potential witnesses who may appear before the investigation board”. Amb. Sidikou added.
Amb. Maman S. Sidikou reiterated there that as the Head of AMISOM, together with his colleagues seated with him there will continue to ensure that all AMISOM personnel, whether uniformed or civilians, armed or unarmed, strictly adhere to the fundamental principles of International Humanitarian Law as well as the African Union Peace Support Operations Code of Conduct.
He however noted that their soldiers are operating in a very complex environment. He said they will continue to appeal to their host communities to facilitate the work of AMISOM troops in the fight against al Shabaab.
He concluded that on their part, AMISOM troops will continue to uphold the inviolability of civilian lives as sacrosanct. As such, he said they will continue to make sure that their soldiers carry out their mandate of supporting the Somali people and government in the fight against al Shabaab and in this very difficult environment, they do not lose sight of that cardinal principle.