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At UN on Somalia, Diplomat Admits Probe & Firing, Mercenaries Not Known

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 3 -- To represent Somalia at the UN is not easy. Tuesday with the Permanent Representive and his Deputy Idd Bidl Mohamed both away, First Secretary Omar Jamal held a press conference trying to put the country in the best light. Inner City Press asked about mercenaries and human right violations. Video here, from Minute 19.

Omar Jamal would not answer about the mercenaries, and said that rights violations are "under investigation." He said this is "under strict investigation by the government, there has not been any denial of this." In fact, there was been denial.

Perhaps reflecting his Minneapolis diaspora roots, Omar Jamal said the Al Shabab's suicide bombers in Mogadishu are targeting "soft targets before bars" -- how many bars are there, in Mogadishu, despite the recent MSM pitch of its gentrification?

Inner City Press asked about the TFG's contract to protect the coast with Nairobi based Halliday Finch, a topic it has asked the UN about, without answer. Omar Jamal said, "I am not aware of that, I think I cannot comment, I am not aware of it."

And so Inner City Press asked about a specific UN - Somalia issue: the unceremonious firing in January 2012 of Deputy SRSG Christian Manahl, just after Ban Ki-moon visited the country.

Omar Jamal said, "I am aware of his dismissal, but I am not going to get into the reasons. On record, he has been dismissed. He would be the perfect person to respond, why and under what circumstances."

But Ban Ki-moon gives in to host countries, most recently in Sierra Leone, and then those fired don't talk, perhaps hoping for another UN job.

From the UN's March 30 transcript:

Inner City Press: On Somalia, there are reports saying that the Transitional Federal Government has contracted with a private security firm based in Nairobi called Halliday Finch to patrol its coast. I wanted to know, one, whether there is any UN involvement — whether Mr. [Augustine P.] Mahiga is aware of this, whether this constitutes the use of mercenaries, the reason I am asking this is that Halliday Finch being involved in this transfer of 17 pirates who were in the Seychelles, now transferred to Somaliland, which UNODC said it played a role in, issued a press release about. My real question here is whether the UN is in fact directly or indirectly involved with a mercenary firm in its work in Somalia.

Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey: No, we’ll have to get information on that; I don’t have anything with me on that.

And still nothing... Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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