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John Mahama cannot be trusted to be impartial – Somalia rejects…

John Mahama cannot be trusted to be impartial - Somalia rejects Mahama’s appointment as AU envoy

John Mahama cannot be trusted to be impartial – Somalia rejects… 

Somalia has rejected the appointment of former Ghanaian

President John Mahama as the African Union’s (AU) special

envoy to help mediate its political impasse with Kenya.

Somalia argues that, the former Head of State has “extensive links”

with Kenya, and has written to AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat

notifying him that Somalia will no longer support Mr. Mahama in his new role.

‘Not impartial’ 

Mohamed Abdirazak, Somalia’s Foreign and International Cooperation Minister,

says the Ghanaian ex-leader is closely associated with the leadership in Kenya,

without specifying who in particular. Based on this alone, he says,

Mr. Mahama cannot be trusted to be impartial and deliver an acceptable solution.

In a letter riddled with grammatical mistakes, Mr. Abdirazak claims that

the AU did not thoroughly scrutinize Mr. Mahama’s background

before appointing him to the role.

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“It is indeed surprising that a candidate with extensive links with Kenya’s

leadership has been chosen by the AU to facilitate talks on a political

impasse partly engineered by those the Kenyan leadership has supported,”

the letter dated May 9 but which was circulated among diplomats on Tuesday says.

“Given the politically sensitive nature of the task of a high representative,

in any case, I am certain you will appreciate the importance of any candidate

for such a post to be seen as impartial and without any links to the region.”

Mr. Mahama, who ruled Ghana between 2012 and 2017, was on Saturday

named the High Representative of the African Union for Somalia’s political

mediation. A statement from the AU said he will “will work with the

Somali stakeholders to reach a mutually acceptable compromise towards

an all-encompassing resolution for the holding of Somali

elections in the shortest possible time.”

“In fulfilling his mandate, the High Representative will be supported

by Amisom to ensure that the mediation efforts and the peace

support operation work together seamlessly.”

It is likely that the continental body picked Mr. Mahama based on

its own assessment of his qualities as a mediator. In 2017, he led election

observers for the Commonwealth Observer Mission at the Kenyan polls.

However, he angered a number of Kenyan opposition leaders for endorsing

the vote as “credible and inclusive”, but the election was later overturned

by the Supreme Court. He became an unpopular figure in Nairobi after that.

But Somalia’s accusation now means that he cannot take up the role.

Mogadishu’s argument is also a longshot that prevents Mr. Mahama

from ever engaging in the country’s political mediation.

No longer necessary

According to Mr. Abdirazak, the decision to name a special envoy has been

overtaken by events, given that Prime Minister Hussein Roble had already

brokered a deal to have parties resume discussions for holding indirect elections.

“It is my concern, [that] deploying an envoy in the process now will

only confuse the present amicable arrangements and at worse risk,

the politicization of the process further than necessary,” he wrote.

Last week, Qatar’s Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar

for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution,

Dr. Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, helped broker a deal between opposition

groups and the Federal Government of Somalia.

Qatar, previously loathed by opposition groups, also beat the AU to the

Somalia-Kenya mediation role after deploying the special envoy earlier

and getting the Horn country to reconsider severing ties. Shortly after his

visit, Somalia announced that it would be restoring diplomatic ties with Kenya.

The UN, however, had endorsed Mr. Mahama as a mediator for the

African Union. In a statement on Sunday, Stéphane Dujarric, the Spokesperson

of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the global agency would

give “full support for this African Union initiative.”

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