The Honorable Michele Cervone d’Urso, the Head of the European Union’s Mission in Somalia/Somaliland, is again at the center of heated polemics, conjectures and ill-thought of exchange of accusations among leaders of the three national political parties of Somaliland.
This time round, it is about the real reasons behind the closure of the EU office in Hargeisa, the capital of the Republic of Somaliland.
According to His Excellency the Somaliland Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Behi Yonis, no official, written communication has been forwarded to the government of Somaliland on the matter.
Speaking to the media, the frustration on the absence of communication and the clear snub on the part of the EU Head of Mission, Mr. d’Urso, on diplomatic protocol and against the people and government of Somaliland in not clearly and justifiably disclosing his move, played shadows and tricks on the Minister’s face and voice, respectively.“The EU decided to cut down expenses and this office is among those axed,” the Minister said, adding that Hargeisa’s was not the only office falling under these austerity measures.
The Minister did neither defend the EU’s professed reason on so unexpectedly withdrawing its prsence on the ground in Somaliland nor showed a lot of conviction in accepting the move.
“We are going to raise the issue with the relevant offices,” he stated a mite lamely to, perhaps, not show his chagrin on how the Somaliland/Somaliland Head of mission has made this turn around without prior consultation with the government or an indication that such was on the offing.
The leaders of the two national opposition parties of UCID and Waddani blamed, expectedly, the government for ‘losing its diplomatic grip’ and to being responsible for the humiliation of Somaliland in the EU’s move.
The statements the two leaders made attributed the closure to, in general, ‘ineptitude’ of government in dealing with the international community.
The leaders, though, did not produce evidence that it was in fact so – but they cannot be blamed for not doing so as the EU decision has has, obviously, taken them by surprise, too.
The Somalia media is, also, having a field day on issue.
This latest action on the part of Mr. d”Urso and the EU is a stab on the back on Somaliland as it closely follows the Head of Mission’s little concealed propensity to heavy-handedly interfer in internal affairs where he, as a diplomat should have handled such issues very delicately. In at least two occasions Mr. d’Urso made a botch of his assignment: in April 2015, he openly made his opposition to the execution of 6 assassins in accordance with the Sharia and the Penal Code known to the government, the media. In May – the following month, he again very openly, very undiplomatically advocated for a rejection of the Somaliland Guurti’s extension of terms for the Parliament’s House of Representatives and the government – although theirs only added two months and half of another to the schedule of an ad hoc agreement that the three political parties reached/proposed.
Observing a harmful silence on the issue of the EU Hargeisa office exacerbates an already murky political atmosphere that makes Mr. d’Urso appear to have ulterior motives in his office’s questionable ‘cooperation’ with Somaliland which, it is clear, not many members of this august organization agree with.
It does not make much sense to the government and people of Somaliland that the EU is abandoning its Hargeisa office when it has only in May this year opened an office in rival Mogadishu, Somalia, and made its presense felt there.
Mr. d’Urso, representing an organization that is much respected by the government of Somaliland, must break silence – and not only do that – but mend fences very quickly and effectively to restore the unquestioned respect the EU commanded on the ground.