By Hassan Keynan
There are serious questions about the intentions and judgment of the Special Representative of UN Secretary General (SRSG) for Somalia, Mr. James Swan. There is even serious doubt about both his loyalty to the UN principles and his capacity to understand and adhere to the terms and conditions of his employment as a senior diplomat as well as the code of conduct that guides international civil servants. It appears that Mr. Swan has dragged the UN into a dirty partnership in which it has come close to being compromised.
Since the establishment of UNSOM in 2013, four Special Representatives of UN Secretary General have been appointed. The First two, both seasoned British diplomats, presided over the establishment of Federal Member States (FMS). Excluding Puntland, Jubbaland was the first and most difficult federal member state to put together and stabilize sustainably. By the time Nicholas Kay and Michael Keating concluded their tenures as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, the building blocks of the federal system of government, i.e. Federal Member States, outlined in the Provisional Constitution (PC) had been constituted and made fairly operational.
The third SRSG for Somalia, Mr. Nicholas Haysom, was a distinguished and widely respected diplomat from South Africa, who was also a legal adviser to Nelson Mandela. Mr. Haysom was expelled from the country by President Farmaajo when he called for accountability following Villa Somalia’s unconstitutional and violent intervention in the elections in the Southwest in December 2018. Mr. Haysom questioned the legal basis of the Federal Government’s intervention under the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (UN HRDDP).
Instead of building on what had been achieved by his predecessors, Mr. Swan has become the principal enabler of anti-federalist and anti-Constitution cabal residing in Villa Somalia and its associated criminal networks.
Mr. Swan also seems to have given green light to Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia, and its illegal and arrogant campaign to subvert the infant constitutional order and stability in the country. Mr. Swan has not followed up on Mr. Haysom’s letter (Ref 2018/044 dated 30 December 2018) to AMISOM and the Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia regarding the unlawful and violent intervention of Ethiopian troops in the elections in Southwest State of Somalia.
Mr. Swan’s failure to uphold the neutrality and integrity of the UN encouraged Ethiopian generals to attempt to overthrow the government of Jubbaland State. General Berhanu Jula, Deputy Chief of Staff, dispatched military planes carrying special operations commandos from the Eastern Command based in Harar to the coastal city of Kismayo to hijack the regional elections in Jubbaland. This attempt was so crude and so ugly that it reminded people of the character and tradition of mercenary armies for hire. The predatory mission failed because it provoked a sense of outrage and ultimately a huge backlash that forced the invading units to return to where they came from. More recently, Ethiopia went ahead to interfere in the Galmudug elections. This is the third time in a row Ethiopia waged a nasty campaign of destabilization in Somalia in just one year.
Ethiopia’s involvement in the internal affairs of Somalia has not been confined to the blunt use of military force with the connivance of Mr. Swan. Ethiopia has also infiltrated the UNSOM management, placing its own personnel in senior UNSOM positions. There are credible reports indicating that UNSOM’s most senior Officer in Nairobi is an Ethiopian with close ties to Addis Ababa.
On Mr. Swan’s watch the fragile and hard won peace in Somalia has been eroded through a deliberate and deeply partisan destabilization campaign engineered by Villa Somalia. The country is now on the verge of a bloody civil war that reminds Somalis of the 1991 calamity. Informed and patriotic Somalis and people of good will must keep an eye on Mr. Swan’s true agenda and in Somalia. There are real prospects of a protracted bloody civil war breaking out in many parts of Somalia, especially in Jubbaland.
In Bosnia and Rwanda, the dangerous dispositions of top UN leaders and associated partners had contributed to the genocides that were perpetrated in Bosnia and Rwanda. The level of obfuscation, indecision, and tragic errors of judgement displayed by the top UN leadership in Rwanda had become a dark stain on its integrity and reputation. Let’s hope that the UN will avoid sleepwalking into another genocide.
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Hassan Keynan is a former Professor at the Somali National University and a retired Senior UN Official who worked in Africa, Asia, and Europe
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