posted on Wed 6 Feb 2019 2:58 PM
Somalia Consultations

Tomorrow (7 February), Security Council members will hold consultations on Somalia, with Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefing on her 30-31 January visit to the country. DiCarlo’s visit came a few weeks after the Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Nicholas Haysom, who arrived in Somalia to take up his functions in October 2018, was declared persona non grata by the government. While the meeting is expected to include a discussion about Haysom’s dismissal, it may also have a broader focus on the future relationship between the UN and Somalia, and the government’s reform agenda.  During her visit, DiCarlo met with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo’, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, a group of federal cabinet ministers, and women civil society representatives.

Members may be interested in any additional information that DiCarlo is able to provide about the Somali government’s decision to request Haysom’s removal. This request came after Haysom’s criticism of the government’s decision to arrest former Al-Shabaab leader, Mukhtar Robow, a candidate for president of South West State. Robow, who quit Al-Shabaab in 2013, was arrested by Somali police backed by an AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Ethiopian contingent on 13 December 2018, ahead of the 19 December elections in South West State. While the state had accepted the candidature, the federal government demanded that the former militant be barred because of remaining US Treasury Department sanctions, stating that he had not “relinquished his extremist ideologies”, and kept him off the ballot. The arrest prompted several days of demonstrations in Baidoa, South West State, which turned violent. A Somali police officer and 14 civilians, including a local lawmaker, were killed. Somalia’s former state minister for trade, Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed, won the election. UNSOM, AMISOM, the US, the EU and other international partners issued a joint statement condemning the violence and urging constructive dialogue to resolve political differences and address other challenges.

In this context, in a 30 December 2018 letter to the Somali Minister of Interior Security, Abdi Farah Saeed “Juxa”, Haysom reportedly questioned the legal basis for Robow’s arrest and criticised the subsequent violence against demonstrators in Baidoa. In response, Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad said that Haysom was no longer welcome in Somalia, telling the media that Haysom had “violated diplomatic rules”.

In the following days, both the Secretary-General and Council members pronounced themselves on this issue. On 3 January, the Secretary-General issued a statement expressing his confidence in Haysom, his regret over Somalia’s decision, and his intention to appoint a new Special Representative in due course, to allow UNSOM to carry out its mandate effectively in support of Somalia. On 5 January, Council members issued a press statement expressing their regret at Somalia’s decision to declare Haysom persona non grata and taking note of the Secretary-General’s statement of 3 January (SC/13657).

On 3 January, the same day that the Secretary-General issued his statement, Haysom’s scheduled briefing on UNSOM to the Council took place (S/PV.8440). Haysom focused his remarks on the latest Secretary-General’s report on Somalia (S/2018/1149), and did not refer to the government’s decision. In tomorrow’s meeting, DiCarlo will probably convey the government’s position on Haysom. A replacement for Haysom has yet to be announced.

In light of the tensions aroused by the recent removal of the Special Representative, the relationship between the UN and Somalia appears to have been a key aspect of DiCarlo’s visit. After her meetings in Mogadishu, DiCarlo stated that the UN is committed to supporting peace, stability and prosperity in Somalia. Al Khaire underscored Somalia’s commitment to its international obligations and emphasised the UN’s “critical role in Somalia”. In a joint Somalia-UNSOM statement, DiCarlo commended the government’s comprehensive reform agenda and expressed the UN’s strong support for the implementation of the Somali government’s milestones on inclusive politics, security and justice, economic recovery, and social development. The statement added that the President, the Prime Minister and DiCarlo discussed practical ways towards closer relations and enhanced coordination between the UN and Somalia.

During her meeting with women civil society representatives, DiCarlo expressed continued support for the inclusion, representation and participation of women in Somalia’s political processes. This reiterates the Council’s call in resolution 2408, which was adopted on 27 March 2018 and renewed UNSOM’s mandate for one year, for “the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member States to continue to promote increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in Somali institutions”. In this context, members may be interested in discussing the role of women in the upcoming elections in 2020.

The UNSOM mandate renewal is scheduled for next month prior to its expiration on 31 March.