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Somalia expels top UN envoy

January 3, 2019 at 3:05 am

Ambassador Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, welcomes Nicholas Haysom (right), the New UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, in Mogadishu, on 5 October 2018. [AMISOM Photo / Omar Abdisalan]

The Somali government has ordered the UN top envoy in the country to leave its territories, accusing him of interfering in national sovereignty. The decision came days after concerns have been raised over the practices of the UN-backed Somali security forces.

The Somali state said in a statement late on Tuesday that the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Haysom, “is not welcome anymore and cannot work in this country.” Such a statement represents an actual announcement that the UN official’s stay in Somalia “is no longer possible,” according to Reuters.

“The decision comes after the UN top envoy has publicly violated the code of conduct we expect from officials in the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM),” the statement indicated.

There was no immediate response from the part of the UNOSOM.

The United Nations is a major supporter of Somalia’s quest to recover from the devastating effects of the 1991 civil war when warlords ousted the Somali regime and turned against each other.

The Somali government took the decision to expel the UN top envoy after Haysom sent a letter to the Somali Secretary of Homeland Security on 30 December expressing the organisation’s concern. The letter discussed the “alleged involvement of the UN-backed Somali security forces in the arrest of Mukhtar Robow on 13 December and the death of 15 civilians, in addition to arresting about 300 protesters who participated in the demonstrations on 13, 14 and 15 December.

Robow, who was mentioned in Haysom’s letter, is an extreme Islamist militant affiliated to the Somali Youth League (SYL). Robow has failed to become a regional leader after participating in the elections held in Somalia last month.

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According to the Somali Department of Homeland Security, Robow was arrested on suspicion of bringing fighters and weapons into Baidoa city, the capital of the South Western State of Somalia, where he ran for office and lost.

Robow’s arrest sparked clashes between Somali forces and militiamen allied with the Islamist militant. Ethiopian troops, affiliated to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, have played a role in the ongoing violence.

For more than a decade, the SYL has been trying to overthrow the Somali central government and impose its strict interpretation of the Islamic law. Although the extremist organisation was forced out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011, it still has a foothold in some areas, including the South West State of Somalia.

Robow renounced violence and recognised the legitimacy of the federal authority in 2017.

In his speech, Haysom asked the minister to explain the legal basis for Robow’s arrest. He also inquired about the investigative measures undertaken to probe the circumstances surrounding the death of protesters during the demonstrations in Baidoa after the arrest of the Islamist leader. The United Nations’ envoy mentioned that the international organisation believes that the majority of the detainees are minors.

The UN has joined another letter from the European Union, Germany and Britain, to Haysom’ s speech, announcing the suspension of its support for the police in the South West State of Somalia due to the authorities’ conduct during the elections last month. Haysom detailed the aspects of the UN aid directed to the Somali police force and the police force of the South West state of Somalia, including the payment of policemen salaries.