Somalia Dangerously Tests UN Mettle by Ordering its Political Office to Leave

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UNSOM’s mandate expires in October, after which Mogadishu has asked the assistance mission to depart, thanking it for playing “a crucial role in promoting peace, stability and development” in Somalia

Somalia has asked the United Nations to end its political mission that has been present in the country for more than a decade when its mandate expires in October, according to a letter written to the UN Security Council.

UNSOM was established in 2013 by the UN Security Council to support Somali authorities in the transition to democracy and the rule of law after more than 20 years of conflict between militias, extremist groups and criminal gangs.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is still seeking to extricate Somalia from chronic instability.

In the letter to the Security Council, Somali Foreign Minister Ahmed Moallim Fiqi requested “the termination of the mandate of the United Nations assistance mission in Somalia (UNSOM), following a thorough consideration of our strategic priorities.”

Praising the mission, which “has played a crucial role in promoting peace, stability and development in our country,” he wrote that “it is now appropriate to transition to the next phase of our partnership.”

“We are confident that the achievement and lessons learned during the mission’s presence will continue to guide our efforts towards sustaining peace and prosperity,” he wrote.

When UNSOM’s mandate was renewed last October, the Security Council called on the mission to “maintain and strengthen its presence across Somalia” and expressed “serious concern” about the humanitarian situation.

UN missions can only be deployed with the agreement of the host country. In Africa in particular, the UN has been facing hostility in recent years.

Several countries have forced the departure of UN missions –– in Mali, for example, where MINUSMA pulled out last year.

December also saw the Security Council end the political mission to Sudan at the request of authorities there.