Somalia Orders Top AU Official to Leave Country


Somalia’s government has declared a senior African Union official persona non grata and ordered him to leave the country within seven days.

In a statement Thursday, Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry ordered Simon Mulongo, the deputy special representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, to leave the country.

It said Mulongo was being expelled because of activities that were described as incompatible with the mandate of the AU mission in Somalia and the country’s security strategy. The statement did not elaborate.

Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdirizak warned that his government “will hold accountable AMISOM personnel, particularly those at the leadership level, who are expected to be beyond reproach in their integrity as they discharge their duty under the UN/AU mandate.”

Growing split on peacekeeping force

Ismail Dahir, a security analyst and former Somali national intelligence deputy director, said Mulong’s expulsion was a clear indication of growing disagreement between the Somali government and the AU Peace and Security Commission over the proposed reconfiguration of the AU peacekeeping force into a multinational agency, which Mogadishu strongly opposes.

"The AU Peace and Security council has done very little to gain the trust of the citizens in Somalia," Dahir said. "AMISOM has never operated as a cohesive humanitarian mission but rather as an individual military function comprised of external troops drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia, and each function is further isolated from each other by deployment regions. And the proposed option for the extension mandate is exclusively focused on achieving more funding for AMISOM and AU mission at the expense of the security and stability of the country.”

In 2019, Somalia expelled the United Nations’ top envoy, Nicholas Haysom, accusing him of interfering in Somalia’s domestic affairs.

Researcher and diplomacy analyst Sakariye Cismaan said the Somali government and its international partners need to focus on the larger goal.

“These issues have repeated themselves, and that unfortunately hinders any progress needed to help defeat terrorism," Cismaan said. "So it is really important for both Somalia and these world bodies to put aside their small differences and unite in the fight against terrorism.”

There are more than 20,000 AU peacekeepers in Somalia, operating under a U.N. mandate to help the federal government with security and peace building.

Source: Voice of America

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