Former President John Dramani Mahama
Former President John Dramani Mahama has chickened out of the decision by the African Union Commission to send him to war-torn Somalia as the union’s High Representative.
The former President withdrew his acceptance in a letter on Thursday, signed by his Special Aide, Joyce Bawah Mogtari to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
On Sunday, May 9, 2021, the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation wrote to the AU Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, protesting Mr. Mahama’s appointment by saying he may not be a fair arbiter due to the supposed relationship he has with Kenya, which is a key stakeholder in the region.
Apart from Mr. Mahama’s closeness to the Kenyan authorities, the Somalis also claimed that their rejection of the High Representative bothered on the issue of ‘competence’ and ‘impartiality’.
Mr. Mahama’s withdrawal letter said “while thanking the AU for the confidence reposed in him, Mr. Mahama noted that, ‘the high political importance of the proposed assignment requires that the High Representative enjoy the unalloyed support and co-operation of all political stakeholders’.”
Ms. Mogtari’s letter also said “President Mahama whose appointment as the AU envoy has been roundly welcomed by the Council of Presidential Candidates of Somalia, and the Coalition of Somalia’s Federal Member States, further cautioned in his letter to the AU Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, that the lack of support by the Federal Government could jeopardise the whole process and undermine the hopes that the entire world has in bringing peace to the esteemed land of Somalia.”
The letter then said “the former Ghanaian President who continues to receive requests from various international bodies and groups and is widely respected for his commitment to democratic consolidation, peace building and development used the opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to the African Union’s vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, that includes Somalia.”
The letter signed by the Somalia Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdirizak Mohamud had said “On the 2nd of May the house of the people voted to rescind the special election law established by a majority vote on the 12th of April, with the intention of bringing, about consensus on halving elections under the stipulations of the political agreement of 17th September.”
The Somalis based their rejection on two key issues; namely attempts to bring peace and the fears that Mr. Mahama may not be the right person to handle the issues.
The minister said “I would like to express Somalia’s deep appreciation for your support in aiming to assist my country to secure long-term stability and would like to reaffirm our support for you and your good office. However, the Federal Government of Somalia is of the view, given the present consensus on the elections, the window of opportunity for AU’s High Representative to support Somalia, to have an effect on the political impasse and support the establishment of a Somali-owned and Somali-led is no longer viable given the process has already started with the principles due to meet on the 20th of May.
“It’s my concern, introducing an envoy into the process now will only confuse the present amicable arrangements and at worse risk the politicisation of the process further than necessary.”
“Secondly, given the politically sensitive nature of the task of a High Representative in any case, I’m certain you will appreciate the importance of any candidate for such a post to be seen as impartial and competent without any links to the region,” the minister stated.
The minister then explained that “the earlier envisaged role of the High Representative was all the more sensitive given the political nature of the task. Therefore, it’s indeed surprising that a candidate with an extensive link 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.
“I hereby notify the African Union of the formal withdrawal of support by the Federal Government of Somalia for the AU High Representative for Somalia,” it concluded.
By Ernest Kofi Adu