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Somalia orders top UN official to leave the country

January 2, 2019

Somalia has banished Nicholas Haysom after he "openly breached the appropriate conduct of the UN office." The move comes just days after he raised concerns about UN-supported security forces in Somalia's southwest.

African Union Mission in Somalia
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Price/Au-Un Ist

UN's efforts in Somalia

The government of Somalia said on Tuesday night it had instructed the head of the United Nations mission in the country to leave Somalia, effectively declaring him persona non grata. 

Nicholas Haysom "is not required and cannot work in this country," a Somalian Foreign Ministry statement read.

The order comes days after the diplomat expressed concern over the alleged involvement of UN-supported security forces in the arrest of Mukhtar Robow, a candidate standing for a regional presidential election in the southwest of the country. 

Somali authorities backed by Ethiopian troops detained the former Islamist leader linked to al-Shabab for allegedly wanting to "undermine stability," blocking his election bid. The move sparked deadly clashes between factions loyal to him and Somali forces.

Read more: Life in Somalia under peacekeepers and al-Shabab threats

Arrest of Mukhtar Robow

Haysom cited a number of concerns about the situation surrounding Robow in his letter to the interior security minister, including "the alleged involvement of UN-supported Somali security forces in the arrest of Mukhtar Robow on December 13, the deaths of 15 civilians ... on 13, 14, and 15 December ... and the arrest of approximately 300 people involved in the demonstrations on 13, 14, and 15 December."

Harun Maruf, an expert on the region and author, published part of the letter in a tweet. 

The Internal Security Ministry said that Robow was detained on suspicion that he had brought militants and weapons back to Baidoa, a charge his representative denies.

Read more: Bush's Somalia intervention shaped future US-Africa ties

Somalia has struggled for the past two decades with civil war, famine and failed governance.  Al-Shabab, which has ties to al-Qaida and wants to set up an Islamist state, controls parts of the Somali countryside and carries out attacks against government, military and civilian targets in both Mogadishu and regional towns.       

Germany announced last year that it was ending its participation in an eight-year European Union training mission in Somalia, withdrawing the 5,000 Bundeswehr troops stationed in the country.

kw/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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