Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The United Nations Special Envoy to Somalia Ahmad Ould Abdallah told Asharq Al-Awsat that he decided to finally retire and quit his post in July. However, he denied that his decision has anything to do with his controversial statements on the recent crisis within the troika of the transitional authority in Somalia, which is led by provisional President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad.
Asharq Al-Awsat has learned that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon intends to appoint a diplomat from Tanzania to succeed Ould Abdallah at a time when Somali sources said that former Secretary General of the [former] Organization of African Unity Salim Ahmed Salim is the candidate who stands a better chance to take up this post.
In exclusive statements to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa, where he attends his last meeting at the African Union headquarters, Ould Abdallah said he informed the UN secretary general in April that he does not want to stay in his post or serve a second term.
He added: “Work at the United Nations is difficult and complex. I said I do not want to serve a second term. However, I will remain as adviser to the secretary general on other issues.
He continued: “I will leave my post in July. This is a final decision. My term has been the longest when compared with the terms of my predecessors. Personally, I am satisfied with my work. However, I feel sorry because Somalia, namely Mogadishu, continues to be hostage to personal rivalries.”
Ould Abdallah said he presented to the African Union a new plan of several points to consolidate peace and stability in Somalia and to reinforce security and economy, as was the case at the recent Istanbul conference, in addition to securing human rights.
He emphasized the need to extend support to IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development] and to the African Union forces. He noted that it is necessary to support these forces, pay their personnel’s salaries, increase their size, and provide all the logistical and military assistance that they need.
Ould Abdallah said his plan stipulates that the UN Security Council resolutions on fighting terrorism must be applied to any person or party in or outside of Somalia that opposes stability in the country.
In his statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ould Abdallah denied that his decision to quit his post is connected to the argument that was triggered by his statements in support of a decision by Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad to dismiss his prime minister, Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, because of the latter’s disagreement with former Parliament Speaker Adan Madobe. Afterward, Sheikh Sharif backed down on his decision to dismiss Sharmarke.
Ould Abdallah said: “My resignation has nothing to do with this issue. I supported and continue to support the stand of President Sharif and the government. This is obvious anyway. But my decision to leave my post is a personal one.”
He added: “I took up my post in November 2007 and served about three years in this post. It is a long time when compared with the terms that my predecessors served. Now, however, I have personal matters that I must attend to.”
He continued: “I regard the UN secretary general with great respect. He is the one who appointed me in this post, but I have family and other responsibilities. I seize this opportunity to renew my respect to all my colleagues in the regional and Arab organizations with whom I dealt closely on the Somali issue.”
The UN envoy said that the Somali crisis is a long-standing one that involves trade, economic, and financial issues, and money smuggling, in addition to illicit trade. He referred to the presence of Islamist extremists and noted that the government officials have no experience. He also referred to the civil war that has been going on since 1991.
Ould Abdallah asserted the need for the international community to continue to provide all types of assistance to the transitional authority to enable it to extend its control to all Somali territories. He said: “It is the responsibility of the international community to help the Somali people who have become hostage to political minorities.”
Ould Abdallah defended the period that he spent in his post and refuted the accusations that were leveled at him by some Somali officials, particularly those who are opposed to the transitional authority.
He said: “Everyone waged war against me, and this is only natural. The Somali crisis has existed more than 20 years now. If they say that I or my predecessors were the reason, this is disrespect. The crisis existed before I came and will continue after I go. Let them say whatever they want. No objective analyst would pay any attention to these false accusations.”
Ould Abdallah denied that he is responsible for the financial crisis that the Somali Government faces and which reached a point where the government is unable to pay the salaries of its forces and the salaries of the MPs.
He said: “The EU pays the salaries of the police, army, and MPs, and we only deliver them. We asked for some salaries more than one and a half years ago, but regrettably have not received any answer.”
He added: “The UN office in Nairobi daily requests payment of the funds that are allocated to the transitional authority to enable it to pay its debts, but the payment is conditional on stability because it is unreasonable for them to pay salaries when the goal is not achieved.”
Noting that he had hoped to achieve more positive results for Somalia, Ould Abdallah said: “I support this people and state, especially the president and his government. We believe that they are the victim of rivalry and continuation of the civil war that lacks political mentality.”
Yet, the UN envoy did not give up his little optimism about a possible breakthrough in the political crisis in Somalia. He said: “There are always solutions to civil wars as was the case in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The current situation cannot continue indefinitely. The old people, women, and children have become hostages.”
Concluding his statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ould Abdallah said: “I am sorry because the Somalis continue to evade their responsibilities and lay the blame on others.”