MOGADISHU, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said Thursday it has handed over a military base in south-central region to Somali police as part of transition plan.
AMISOM said Warsheikh Forward Operating Base (FOB) which was a base for the Burundi National Defense Force (BNDF) since 2014 has since served as a key route that secures the Mogadishu-Cadale main supply route to enable the free movement of goods and people.
Richard Banyankimbona, Burundi contingent commander, urged the Somali Police Force who has taken over the control of the military base to remain vigilant in order to secure the base and its neighborhood.
"I would like to congratulate the Somali authorities for their collaboration, especially in the implementation of the transfer process as dictated by the transition plan and our Concept of Operations," he said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.
The Burundi troops have exercised control and managed peace and security in Warsheikh military base for five years. The base which will now serve as the operational base to secure over 50 villages around Warsheikh district, the AU mission said.
According to AMISOM, the handover is part of the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan that specifies a gradual transfer of security responsibility to the Somali security forces and the Somali government ahead of AMISOM's anticipated exit in 2021.
James Nakibus Lakara, AMISOM deputy force commander in charge of operations and plans, said that Burundi troops had sacrificed a lot in Somalia and had worked hard with the local communities to maintain peace in the area.
Warsheikh is the third military base that the Burundian forces have handed over after Somali National University in July 2017 and Jaalle Siyaad Military Academy in March.
Abdinasir Seid Musse, Somalia's deputy minister of internal security described the handover as a testament to the positive trajectory the country is making toward lasting peace, and saluted AMISOM for its efforts to bring peace and security to Somalia.
"It's clear that the Transition Plan is in full swing and we are here to witness that Warsheikh will, from now henceforth, be the responsibility of the Somali Police Force," Abdinasir said.