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UN Chief Agrees to Appoint New Envoy to Somalia

UN Chief Agrees to Appoint New Envoy to Somalia

Saturday, 5 January, 2019 - 10:45
Somalia expels UN envoy Nicholas Haysom. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday agreed to appoint a new UN envoy to Somalia after its president refused to reverse a decision to expel a representative for raising human rights concerns.

Guterres spoke by phone with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Friday -- his second call to the Somali leader in three days -- to once again urge him to change his mind, according to diplomats.

But the president dug in his heels and said UN envoy Nicholas Haysom would remain persona non grata and would not be allowed to return to Somalia, diplomats told AFP.

Guterres "deeply regrets" Somalia's decision, said UN spokesman Farhan Haq, adding that the UN chief nevertheless intends to appoint a new UN envoy.

The UN Security Council met behind closed doors to agree on a response to Somalia's decision.

But during that meeting, China asked for more time to consider a draft statement put forward by Britain that expressed regret at the decision, diplomats said. The council was to reconsider its response on Saturday.

In the British-drafted text, the council would express its support for the UN mission in Somalia and say it expects Somalia to fully cooperate with the United Nations.

The Somali government had ordered Haysom to leave after accusing him of “deliberately meddling” in the country’s internal affairs.

He had expressed his concern over the UN-backed Somali security forces’ handling of recent protest violence that left at least 15 dead.

The protests in the southwestern town of Baidoa on December 13-15 were sparked by a government decision to arrest an Al-Shabaab defector who was running in elections.

Muktar Robow, who defected from Al-Shabaab in 2017, was arrested last month and flown to the capital Mogadishu after announcing his bid for the state presidency in South West State.

Somalia's Ambassador Abukar Dahir Osman told the council that the United Nations should not interfere in his country's national affairs.

Former Al-Shabaab militants "cannot assume leadership positions without going through stringent established rehabilitation programs," he said, adding that a terrorist should not be allowed to rebrand himself as an "ice cream salesperson."

The UN mission in Somalia is tasked with supporting peace efforts and the strengthening of government institutions in the Horn of Africa nation, which were ruined by decades of civil war.

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