Somalia has rejected the appointment of former President John Mahama as the AUâ€™s special envoy to help mediate its political deadlock.
Somalia argues that Mr Mahama has â€œextensive linksâ€ with Kenya, whose leaders Somalia blames for masterminding some of the tensions in its country.
The war-ravaged country has, therefore, written to AU Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, notifying him that Somalia will no longer support Mr Mahama in his new role.
According to a report by African Policy, Mohamed Abdirazak, Somaliaâ€™s Foreign and International Cooperation Minister, has said John Mahama is closely associated with the leadership in Kenya, without specifying who in particular.
â€œBased on this alone, he says, Mr Mahama cannot be trusted to be impartial and deliver an acceptable solution,â€ African Policy reports.
The AU recently appointed Mr Mahama as its High Representative to Somalia, to help mediate between stakeholders towards a mutually acceptable compromise for the holding of elections in the country.
The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat made the announcement in a statement on Saturday, May 9, 2021, saying Mr Mahama will work with Somali stakeholders to reach a mutually acceptable compromise.
The stakeholders have failed to agree on an electoral calendar and on who should manage the polls.
Read details of the story as published by African Policy below.
In a letter riddled with grammatical mistakes, Mr Abdirazak claims that the AU did not thoroughly scrutinise Mr Mahamaâ€™s background before appointing him to the role.
â€œIt is indeed surprising that a candidate with extensive links with Kenyaâ€™s leadership has been chosen by the AU to facilitate talks on a political impasse partly engineered by those the Kenyan leadership has supported,â€ the letter dated May 9 but which was circulated among diplomats on Tuesday says.
â€œGiven the politically sensitive nature of the task of a high representative, in any case, I am certain you will appreciate the importance of any candidate for such a post to be seen as impartial and without any links to the region.â€
Mr. Mahama, who ruled Ghana between 2012 and 2017, was on Saturday named the High Representative of the African Union for Somaliaâ€™s political mediation. A statement from the AU said he will â€œwill work with the Somali stakeholders to reach a mutually acceptable compromise towards an all-encompassing resolution for the holding of Somali elections in the shortest possible time.â€
â€œIn fulfilling his mandate, the High Representative will be supported by Amisom to ensure that the mediation efforts and the peace support operation work together seamlessly.â€
It is likely that the continental body picked Mr Mahama based on its own assessment of his qualities as a mediator. In 2017, he led election observers for the Commonwealth Observer Mission at the Kenyan polls.
However, he angered a number of Kenyan opposition leaders for endorsing the vote as â€œcredible and inclusiveâ€, but the election was later overturned by the Supreme Court. He became an unpopular figure in Nairobi after that.
But Somaliaâ€™s accusation now means that he cannot take up the role. Mogadishuâ€™s argument is also a longshot that prevents Mr. Mahama from ever engaging in the countryâ€™s political mediations.
No longer necessary
According to Mr Abdirazak, the decision to name a special envoy has been overtaken by events, given that Prime Minister Hussein Roble had already brokered a deal to have parties resume discussions for holding indirect elections.
â€œIt is my concern, [that] deploying an envoy in the process now will only confuse the present amicable arrangements and at worse risk, the politicization of the process further than necessary,â€ he wrote.
Last week, Qatarâ€™s Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution, Dr Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, helped broker a deal between opposition groups and the Federal Government of Somalia.
Qatar, previously loathed by opposition groups, also beat the AU to the Somalia-Kenya mediation role after deploying the special envoy earlier and getting the Horn country to reconsider severing ties. Shortly after his visit, Somalia announced that it would be restoring diplomatic ties with Kenya.
The UN, however, had endorsed Mr Mahama as a mediator for the African Union. In a statement on Sunday, StÃ©phane Dujarric, the Spokesperson of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the global agency would give â€œfull support for this African Union initiative.â€