UN Monitoring Group Report on Somalia Comes Under Fire

Somali public figures implicated in a new report released by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea blasted the group over what they called “character assassination” and “false and damaging allegations.”

Although the report was officially made public Wednesday, for a little over a week, Reuters has been releasing a series of articles about the contents of the report, from alleged financial mismanagement at the Central Bank of Somalia, concerns on the role of western oil corporations in fueling instability in Somalia and alleged complicity of Kenya in the illegal charcoal trade in the port city of Kismayo, allegations which have been denied by those accused in the report.

Reactions to the group’s revelations were swift. Most Somalis expressed two contentious issues with regard to the report: the nature of evidence presented against those named and the overall purpose of the report which contains controversial allegations.

“Who ever wrote #UNSEMG report should be added into ‘Spoilers’ list,” Mohamed Farah of London tweeted, in reference to spoiler networks in Somalia included in the report.

The Monitoring Group on Somalia was initially set up by the Security Council to supervise the arms embargo against the country, but the UN entity has recently sank its roots deep into all parts of Somalia.

Many of those named in the latest report claim they have not been given a fair chance to respond to the allegations before publication of the report, contradicting the UN’s principles of transparency and accountability.

The report alleges that Fahad Yasin and Abdi Aynte, director of Heritage Institute of Policy Studies (HIPS) in Mogadishu, were conduits for money from Qatar last year meant to fund the election campaign of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Aynte, according to the report, is “a prominent member of the Ala Sheikh political and business association of former [Transitional Federal Government] President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.”  Ahmed was competing against Mohamud in the September 2012 election. It also says Yasin, a nephew to the current Minister of State at the Presidency Farah Sheikh Abdulqadir, is a senior figure at HIPS.

“Both Aynte and Yasin are important figures in consolidating cooperation between Ala Sheikh and Damul Jadid,” the report alleges. Political commentators allege that former President Ahmed belongs to the Ala Sheikh group, and the current president to Damul Jadid or New Blood.

HIPS was quick to respond to the allegations, posting a point-by-point statement on its website.

“The allegations in the report bear a striking resemblance to an article that appeared on ‘Africa Intelligence’ in February 2013 – a source widely known in Somalia to circulate false rumors,” the statement says. “The approach taken in the report demonstrates a lack of due diligence and reliance on rumor mills. The Monitoring Group’s willful disregard for facts is worsened by the use of ‘guilt by association’ techniques.”

HIPS accused the Monitoring Group of contradicting itself, linking Aynte to two opposing camps that competed for political power at the last election: Sheikh Sharif’s Ala Sheikh and President Mohamud’s Damul Jadid.

HIPS says it was not given a chance to comment on the allegations before the Monitoring Group released its report.

“Such false allegations undermine the validity of the report and the UN’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and integrity,” it says.

Somali political analyst Abukar Arman describes the report as “made of truths, half-truths, and a whole lot of innuendos.” He further argues that the overall purpose of the report is questionable.

Arman contends that the contents of the report are meant to distract attention from the real issues – that of the UN and associated NGOs’ lack of accountability when it comes to Somalia including how the transition to the new federal system was handled and how the roughly 1 billion dollars raised annually on behalf of Somalia is spent by these members of the “Ghost-Lords network”.

“Much of the report is insightful and apolitical while the rest is clearly used for political reasons or simply as a red herring.”

Reactions to the report on social media

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