The new Force Commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) officially assumed office on Monday at a formal ceremony, held at the Force Headquarters in Mogadishu, Somalia.
The ceremony was presided over by Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia.
Lt. Gen. Diomede Ndegeya from Burundi, took over the reign as AMISOM Force Commander (FC), from Lt. Gen. Tigabu Yilma of Ethiopia, who served in that capacity since January, 2019.
The ceremony included a colourful military parade mounted by AMISOM sector 1 forces from Uganda and witnessed by senior AMISOM commanders.
In his remarks during the handover of instruments of power between the outgoing and incoming Force Commanders, SRCC Madeira welcomed Gen. Ndegeya and urged him to build on the rich tradition of his predecessors to enable the mission achieve its mandate.
“Gen. Ndegeya you are inheriting a tradition of heroism, a tradition of dedication and self-giving. We want this tradition to continue and to be strengthened,” the SRCC told Gen. Ndegeya, noting that Burundi has been a major pillar of AMISOM, right from its inception in 2007, adding that Burundi alongside Uganda, played a pivotal role in the capture of Mogadishu in 2011 from Al-Shabaab terrorists.
“Now you are in the lead, you have to lead us to achieve our mandate in the military component,” Ambassador Madeira told Gen. Ndegeya.
“I have great expectations in you, so you are welcome,” he added and commended Gen. Tigabu whom he described as “a great son of Africa” for his stewardship of the military component, culminating in a string of achievements during his tour of duty.
Gen. Ndegeya, has 38-years’ experience in the military, and prior to being deployed on the AU mission as Force Commander had served in the Burundi National Defence Forces (BNDF) in various capacities, including as a member of the BDNF AMISOM’s pre-deployment team in-charge of supervising and training, and was part of a reconnaissance mission in 2012, to the Bay and Bakool regions of Somalia ahead of AMISOM troop deployment there.
On his part Gen. Ndegeya assured the SRCC of his commitment and desire to help the mission build on its achievements.
“I wish to assure you of my utmost dedication to serve this mission and maintain the excellent work and the progress made so far,” said Gen. Ndegeya, adding that he is aware of the task ahead and appealed for the support of the mission leadership and other partners.
“The task ahead of me is not easy, but with your support and wise leadership and support from the civilian, military and police components of AMISOM, as well as our international partners, we will jointly take the mission forward and achieve our mandate,” the incoming Force Commander Gen. Ndegeya said and pledged to “serve diligently and work closely with all the sector commanders and other components of the mission.”
The outgoing FC Gen. Tigabu, hailed the mission leadership and the military component for the support rendered to him, noting that the successes achieved during his tour of duty, were due to the tremendous team spirit. He urged AMISOM military officers and forces to accord the new Force Commander their unreserved support.
“As I take this opportunity to welcome and hand over command of the military component to Lt. Gen. Diomede Ndegeya, I humbly request all of you to give your unreserved support to the incoming Force Commander to ensure he brings even further achievements,” the outgoing Force Commander Gen. Tigabu said.
Prior to his appointment, Gen. Ndegeya served as a Senior Advisor to the Minister of Defence in Burundi, charged with political and diplomatic affairs, a role he took on after serving four years as a Defence Attaché at the Burundian Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
He holds a Master’s degree in Technical Sciences, and has vast knowledge in military command and defence strategy obtained from military institutions in Russia, China and France.