Somalia orders top UN official to leave

The foreign affairs ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday that Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, “is not required and cannot work in this country.” (Shutterstock)
Updated 02 January 2019
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Somalia orders top UN official to leave

  • The United Nations is a major backer of Somalia, which is trying to claw its way out of the embers of the civil war that engulfed it in 1991
  • The Internal Security Ministry said that Robow was arrested on suspicion that he had brought militants and weapons back to the southern city of Baidoa

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s government has ordered the top United Nations official in the country to leave, accusing him of interfering with national sovereignty days after he raised concerns about the actions of UN-supported Somali security forces.
The foreign affairs ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday that Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, “is not required and cannot work in this country,” effectively declaring the official persona non grata.
“The decision comes after he openly breached the appropriate conduct of the UN office in Somalia,” the statement read.
There was no immediate comment from the UN mission in the volatile, impoverished country in the Horn of Africa.
The United Nations is a major backer of Somalia, which is trying to claw its way out of the embers of the civil war that engulfed it in 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a dictator and then turned on each other.
The government’s move comes after Haysom sent a letter dated Dec. 30 to the interior security minister expressing concern over “the alleged involvement of UN-supported Somali security forces in the arrest of Mukhtar Robow on 13 December, 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.”
Robow, the individual referred to in the letter, is a former Islamist Al-Shabab militant whose bid to become a regional leader in the country in an election last month was blocked.
The Internal Security Ministry said that Robow was arrested on suspicion that he had brought militants and weapons back to the southern city of Baidoa, the capital of South West region where he is running for president.
His arrest sparked clashes between militiamen loyal to Robow and Somali forces. Ethiopian security forces, who are part of an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, were also involved in the violence.
Al Shabab has sought for over a decade to topple the central government and implement its strict version of Islamic law. It was driven out of the capital in 2011 but maintains a foothold in some regions including South West.
Robow, however, publicly renounced violence and recognized federal authority in 2017.
In the letter, Haysom asked the minister to explain the legal basis for Robow’s arrest. He also asked what action had been taken to investigate the circumstances of the deaths during the demonstrations in Baidoa following Robow’s arrest. He said that the UN understood that most of those detained were children.
The UN letter also contained an annexed joint letter from the European Union, Germany and Britain announcing the suspension of their support to the police in South West state due to their conduct during last month’s election. Haysom also detailed the UN support to the Somali police force and the South West regional police which includes the payment of stipends to the police.


Trump-Xi meeting at G20 raises hope for trade truce

Updated 50 min 2 sec ago
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Trump-Xi meeting at G20 raises hope for trade truce

  • Chinese president said the problems between US and China won’t benefit either sides
  • US and China raised tariffs on some of each other’s goods and companies

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have agreed to meet at the G20 summit in Japan next week, raising hopes for a truce in the bruising trade war between the world’s top two economies.
The two leaders spoke on the phone on Tuesday, weeks after negotiations broke down when Trump accused Beijing of reneging on its commitments, hiked tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods and then blacklisted Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
The US president took a conciliatory approach this time.
“Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan,” Trump said on Twitter.
“Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting,” he said ahead of the June 28-29 summit.
Xi noted that bilateral relations had encountered difficulties that were “not in the interest of either side” but he warned that dialogue must be conducted on “an equal footing.”
“China and the US will both gain by cooperating and lose by fighting,” Xi told Trump, according to state media.
Global shares were buoyed by the announcement, with Wall Street rallying on Tuesday and Asian stock markets surging on Wednesday.
The White House readout of the call said the leaders “discussed the importance of leveling the playing field for US farmers, workers, and businesses through a fair and reciprocal economic relationship.”
“I think we have a chance. China wants a deal. They don’t like the tariffs,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I have a very good relationship with president Xi. We’ll see what happens.”
The White House repeated that the focus of the talks will be to address “structural barriers to trade with China and achieving meaningful reforms that are enforceable and verifiable.”
The United States and China seemed close to an agreement when talks collapsed last month.
Beijing retaliated to Trump’s tariffs and moves against Huawei by increasing custom taxes on $60 billion in US goods, creating its own list of “unreliable” companies and individuals and threatening to ban exports of rare earths to the United States.
Xi told Trump that the two countries must “accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns” and that “China hopes the US side can treat Chinese firms in a fair manner,” according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Trump had requested the call between the two leaders, according to Xinhua.
A week before the G20, Xi will visit North Korea on Thursday and Friday, his first trip there as president.
China is North Korea’s sole major ally, and analysts say Xi could use any leverage Beijing may have in the nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang as a “bargaining chip” in his talks with Trump.
Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow warned that there are “no guarantees” of any resolution in Osaka, Japan.
“Our position continues to be (that) we want structural changes,” Kudlow told reporters.
“They’ll have a good conversation. The fact that they’re meeting is a good thing.”
In an editorial, the state-run China Daily said Communist Party decision-makers, like White House counter-parts, “want to evade a full-blown trade war.”
“Since neither side appears ready to really slam the door shut on further negotiations, they should refrain from escalating tensions, and engage each other in a more constructive manner,” the daily said.
Global markets are concerned about Trump’s threat to impose more steep tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports, which could hurt the already slowing Chinese economy and spread the gloom worldwide.
Trump last week threatened to “immediately” jack up tariffs should Xi fail to show up at the meeting. The United States already has 25 percent duties on more than $250 billion of imports from China.