Somalia hits UN Envoy with “persona non-grata” over inquiry of civilian deaths, arrests

Somalia government on Tuesday declared the United Nations special representative to the country Nicholas Haysom as persona non-grata a day after the South African diplomat raised queries of the deaths of 15 civilians and ‘illegal’ arrests of more than 300 in Baidoa last month.

A written statement sent to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres by the Somali Foreign Ministry alleged Mr Haysom of ‘interfering with internal affairs of Somalia and overs stepping his mandate as United Nations Envoy’ as ‘persona non-grata’.

“The UN Envoy Mr. Nicholas Haysom is no longer welcome and cannot operate in the country [Somalia],” the Foreign Ministry’s letter read in part.

The UN diplomat Haysom, 66, was appointed just last September as the Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia. His predecessor Mr Michael Keating from United Kingdom left late October after completing his nearly three years appointment to the mission based in Mogadishu.

The move on Tuesday comes a day after Mr. Haysom demanded answers of deadly Baidoa violence by UN supported Somali police in mid December days before a heated up election was to take place there. The UN Envoy sought clear explanation of how15 civilians were allegedly killed by government soldiers including a boy and a local lawmaker, according to Amnesty international. More than 300 civilians including children were also arrested and taken into custody for more than 48 hours in contrary to the Somalia’s Provisional Constitution which forbids arrest without due procedures.

In the letter, the UN envoy demanded answers on the legal basis for the detention of South West presidential candidate Mukhtar Robow, who was arrested by the Ethiopian troops in Baidoa and later handed over to the Somali government.

In the meantime the European Union which pays stipends to 6,800 Somali Uniformed Police officers informed to have suspended support to the police unit based in Baidoa over the unjustified conduct of the police in Baidoa between December 15 – 18, according to a letter addressed to the Ministry of internal security and seen by Horn Observer.

On Tuesday, shortly before the Somali government announced its decision to expel the UN Envoy, al-Shabaab fired seven mortar rounds into the UN Compound which houses Mr. Haysom’s office. Two UN staff and one contractor were injured, according to a statement from Mr. Haysom’s office in Mogadishu.

Source: Horn Observer