Somalia Shockingly Requests U.N. Termination of Political Mission

The government of Somalia officially asked for the end of a U.N. political mission that has been advising on peace-building, security reforms, and democracy for more than ten years. The request, made in a letter from the foreign minister to the Security Council, came as a surprise to the 360-member United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOLD).

Despite ongoing conflict and a lengthy insurgency by al Qaeda-linked militants, Somali authorities have been working to improve services and security in the country. However, Somalia – with a population of 17 million – continues to be one of the most violent and impoverished nations in the world.

The termination of the political mission is separate from a U.N.-mandated African Union peacekeeping mission, which is set to withdraw and hand over to the Somali government later this year.

The authenticity of the letter, dated May 5, was confirmed by three U.N. officials, who opted to remain anonymous. Despite the letter circulating on social media, Somali officials did not offer any comments.

In the letter, Foreign Minister Aimed Moa Fiji did not provide reasons for the termination request, only stating that the government believes it is time to move to the next phase of their partnership. A presidential advisor agreed with the decision, stating that Somalia no longer requires support from the U.N. for international coordination like it did under UNSOM.

Matt Bryden, a Somalia analyst, noted that the federal government has accused UNSOM of meddling in internal affairs. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has been working to consolidate power through constitutional changes, while UNSOM has been trying to balance the federal government’s agenda with the aspirations of individual states for more autonomy.

Expect more forceful and independent initiatives from the federal government of Somalia in areas like constitutional revisions, federalism, and elections, according to Bryden.

UNSOM responded to Somalia’s request, calling it a recognition of their work in supporting Somali authorities over the years. They clarified that other U.N. agencies, such as humanitarian organizations, will continue to operate in Somalia, despite the end of the political mission.

The report was contributed by Aaron Ross and Giulia Paravicini, written by Giulia Paravicini, and edited by Andrew Cawthorne.

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