A former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs under the Mahama administration, Mr Emmanuel Bombande, has asked the African Union to ignore the concerns raised against the selection of former President John Mahama to mediate in the political tension in Somalia.
He said Mr John Mahama is a credible personality and is more than qualified to perform the role assigned him by the AU.
Somalia has formally written to the African Union to stall its decision to send former Ghana President John Mahama to the country as the AU High Representative for Somalia in an effort to mediate the political impasse in the country.
In a letter dated Sunday, May 9, 2021, Somalia’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdirizak Mohamud outlined the reasons for the withdrawal of support for the AU representative.
First of all, he said the process to find an amicable solution to the impasse in the East African country started way back in September, 2020 with the Prime Minister leading efforts to finalize political agreement.
He added that the parties had even reached an agreement to meet on Thursday, May 20.
“It’s my concern, introducing envoy in to the process now will only confuse the present amicable arrangements and at worse risk the politicization of the process further than necessary.”
Secondly, the Foreign Minister doubts Mr John Mahama’s impartiality and competence to handle the mediation talks given his “extensive link” with Kenya’s government, which is being accused of supporting one of the parties.
“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 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 of Somalia.”
Commenting on this development, Mr Bombande who is also a former Executive Director of the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) said “What you see happening is very normal. In a situation where there is a protracted disagreement over an issue and parties try to check one another out and you begin to see it as a kind of their preparedness and willingness to talk.
“Whether or not you begin to have these fears , the geopolitics of the Horn of Africa including the Eastern Africa region is one in which they have economic interest and will want to co-exist as neighbors.”
“Former President John Mahama does not live in East Africa, he is not a citizen of the Horn of Africa and yet if I were to relate to, who do you arrive at to be the convener of the type of dialogue we are talking about, contest matters, Somalia is one of the most protracted, most difficult places to be able to convene dialogue.
“Since 1991 when the civil war started they have never been able to come together as the world knew it as Somalia. And so for me, the question is, is former President John Mahama a credible convener? The answer will be yes.
“Will he provide credible facilitations? The answer will be yes. Does he have a vested interest in the outcome of any settlement that will lead Somalia towards a transparent elections? He does not have that vested interest,” he told Accra-based Joy FM.