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On Somalia, UN Belated Admits Rejections of its MOU With Kenya

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 15 -- A UN-promoted joint Law of the Sea filing by Kenya and those Somalis the UN works with, about Somalia's offshore rights, has finally been acknowledged by the UN as rejected by the Somalia parliament.

  On March 12, 2010, the UN web site quietly added the notation that the "Memorandum of Understanding" about the filing, pushed by Nairobi based UN envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah and funded by oil drilling Norway, "has been rejected by the Parliament of the Transitional Federal Government Somalia, and is to be hence treated as non-actionable."

  Inner City Press has reported extensively about this controversial MOU, which despite rejection in Somalia has been defended by the UN, Ould Abdallah and Norway. Another analysis by some Inner City Press sources is below.

  But the UN's quiet admission that its plan for the Somali coastline was rejected by Somalis comes as the UN's Sanctions Group on Somalia is promoting its findings about widespread diversion of aid to Al Shabab. As Inner City Press reported, the Sanctions report has subject last week to a staged leak, first to the New York Times and then to wire services. Some UN correspondents reported did not appreciate the exposure of how the document was shown. But it is relevant, and should have been reported in the initial stories.

Ould Abdallah at UNSC stakeout, rejection of his LOS deal not shown

Here now is an alternative telling of the UN - Somali story, an update to Inner City Press' previous reporting on the MOU:

From the [beginning, many] Somalis were furious about the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), saying “Somali territorial waters would have been lost had this MOU succeed”. And any where that the Somali TFG delegations travel they were confronted by angry citizens asking them “why did they sign that MOU” and demanding answers from them.

While many Somali lawmakers (MPs) were criticizing the government about the controversial MOU with Kenya, and hand full of TFG ministers were shying away from defending it, Deputy Prime Minister ( he is also Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources) Abdirahman Adan Ibbi (AKA Prof. Ibbi) became the biggest lobbyist for the MOU - Weird huh!

Prof. Ibbi fought very had so that the MOU would go forward. In doing so he wrote a letter* to Ban Ki Moon on August 19, 2009 supporting the MOU – it was after the Somali parliament rejected the same MOU (and voted down on August 1, 2009).

What is serious about that letter was: it was signed by him, Prof. Ibbi, but is says it was written by TFG Prime Minister Omer Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke who was out of town at the time. When that letter became public Prof. Ibbi started to fade away into the background.

Prof. Ibbi had a backing of the TFG president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who also defended the MOU .

When the Somali PM Sharmarke realized that his deputy used his name, he (Sharmarke) wrote his own letter to Ban Ki Moon on October 10, 2009, supporting the Parliament decision. The funny thing is, Sharmarke’s office did not send that letter to The Secretary-General of UN as they should. Much later, realizing again, Sharmarke handed the letter to Somalia's Foreign Minister, Ali Jama Jangali so that he could hand deliver to Ban Ki Moon or at least send through appropriate channel.

Nobody knows whether Jangali handed that letter to The Secretary-General – at least it was not posted at the UN website as they did the previous letters regarding the same MOU.

While all these were going on, a group of Somali lawmakers, who were fed up with government, sent their own letter to Ban-Ki Moon asking him not to accept the controversial maritime deal between Kenyan and Somalia and remind him that Somali Parliament rejected it. Again that letter also was not posted at UN website and as far as we aware of, The Secretary-General of the United Nations did not respond the Somali MPs’ letter – at least he did send reply back.

We do not know what did it or which letter reached at the Ban Ki Moon’s desk. But we do know that there was an update at UN website on 12 March 2010 stating that: “The MOU has been rejected by the Parliament of the Transitional Federal Government Somalia, and is to be hence treated as non-actionable.

This has been a huge relief for Somalis in general as they realize that the MOU between Somalia and Kenya is non-actionable – which in legal term means NULL & VOID.

Somalis think this is very good statement from UN headquarters, why? The MOU between Somalia and Kenya had a backing of UN Somalia Office (based mainly in Nairobi Kenya). This has been a concern for Somali people. And that is why many believe that UN Headquarters did not acknowledge quickly when Somali Parliament rejected the same MOU.

This is also a news dawn for Somali political system, some say, as members of parliament realize that they can overrule any law (for Somalia) even if the president doesn’t approve it. There had been even a talk to impeach the Somali parliament speaker, Sheikh Aden Mohamed Nur (AKA Aaden Madoobe) as he did not act swiftly when the TFG government started the maritime MOU between Somalia/Kenya.

* Below is the link of Prof. Ibbi’s letter (at UN website)

You can compare with the Somali PM’s signature at following link (UN website).

We'll have more on this.

* * *

Crackdown on Somali Pirates, Based On Letter to UN by Ex-Prez Yusuf, Questioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 10 -- Somali pirates have been the topic at the UN for the past two days. Thursday outside the Fourth Meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Japanese diplomat Masafumi Ishii, who chaired the meeting, told the Press that money will be raised to fight the pirates, and to implement a "comprehensive" strategy against them, including on land.

   Inner City Press asked if the underlying issues of toxic waste dumping and illegal fishing had been discussed at all in the meeting. No, Ambassador Ishii said, that did not come up. Inner City Press asked about a recent incident in which Germany shot and killed a pirate, seemingly in violation of rules procedures as in Afghanistan. No, that incident was not discussed, Ishii said.

  The UN Security Council resolution under which pirates are being hunted, Resolution 1851, is based on the purportedly still valid consent of Somalia, on a December 9, 2008 letter to the Council from then-President Abdullahi Yusuf, who was out of power soon after signing the letter. People and even parliamentarians in Somalia have told Inner City Press they have not found it easy to get and see a copy of this letter, which is referred to in Paragraph 10 of Resolution 1851:

"10. Affirms that the authorization provided in this resolution apply only with respect to the situation in Somalia and shall not affect the rights or obligations or responsibilities of Member States under international law, including any rights or obligations under UNCLOS, with respect to any other situation, and underscores in particular that this resolution shall not be considered as establishing customary international law, and affirms further that such authorizations have been provided only following the receipt of the 9 December 2008 letter conveying the consent of the TFG."

  On September 9, Inner City Press asked U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Countryman about the letter. He said he was not aware of it. Also on September 9, Inner City Press asked UN Security Council Affairs staff how to get a copy of the letter. You'd have to ask the Somali mission, was the answer.

On the beach in Somalia, Yussuf's letter not shown

  And so on September 10, while Ambassador Ishii spoke, Inner City Press asked an omnipresent Somali deputy ambassador for a copy of the letter. No, he said. You have to ask the Council. This is called the run around.

This has the potential of being similar to the Somali parliament's rejection of the Law of the Sea Continental Shelf filing done in the name of the Somali people by UN envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, using Norwegian money, co-written and filed by Kenya. Watch this site.

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Somali Continental Shelf Filing Rejected by Parliament Has Norway "Embarrassed," UN Admits

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- The Somali parliament recently voted over 90% against a deal cut by UN envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, using Norwegian assistance, to make a joint Kenya - Somali filing about the Somali people's rights to the continental shelf and its natural resources. Even before the vote, Inner City Press had repeatedly asked the UN by what right Ould Abdallah had coordinated the filing, without getting a straight answer.

   Now, with meetings about the Continental Shelf and the Law of the Sea taking place in the basement of the UN's headquarters in New York, Inner City Press finally got at least some answers.

  In a meeting on "The Regular Process of Marine Assessments" held by the UN's Office of Legal Affairs, Inner City Press asked a group of UN experts how they deal with a now-contested filing like the one about Somalia. At first, an expert tried to evade the question, saying it could only be asked and answered at another meeting down the hall about the Limits of the Continental Shelf. But those meetings are all closed.

  The master of ceremonies Peter Gilruth, director of the UN Environment Program's Division of Early Warning and Assessment, said he would try to answer, although he felt it might put his "head in a difficult spot." He said that Norway paid for the filings of some 10 African countries but that in Somalia, some "other elements.... may have tried to take the information in a different direction, causing the difficulty you refer to." Gilruth that moved the proceedings forward, asking if there were "any questions easier than that one."

  Afterwards, Inner City Press approached Mr. Gilruth, who said that the whole Somali filing snafu "involved embarrassment to the government of Norway." 

  Next to him Patricio Bernal, UNESCO Assistant Director-General and Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, said that he had been working on this for ten years, he had coordinated with the Somali "government in exile" in Nairobi, and he could not understand the stink made in Somalia itself. He emphasized that the decisions in Continental Shelf meetings -- behind closed doors, mind you -- are "unappealable."

UN's Ban, Jean Ping and Ould Abdallah, Somali Parliament's rejection not shown

   Perhaps the ongoing snafu reflects that to deal with the Somali government in exile, or the TFG, or Ould Abdallah, is not to deal with the Somali people, and is no guarantee of support or legitimacy. Ould Abdallah, meanwhile, is reported trying to invite into the TFG process a notorious war lord. Inner City Press asked about this last week at the UN's noon briefing, and the Spokesperson said an answer would be sought from Ould Abdallah. But still none has been received. Watch this site.

As first reported by Inner City Press, the filing states that Ould Abdallah

"initiated the preparation of preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of the continental shelf of Somalia beyond 200 nautical miles... In the preparation of this material the SRSG accepted an offer of assistance from the Government of Norway... Both the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate have been involved in the preparation...

Inner City Press wrote about this and asked the UN and Ould's spokesperson Suzie Price, but never received an answer.

   On May, the question was put to Ould Abdallah and he said he is "no specialist," that he was unfamiliar with the filing that states that he prepared it. "Ask Norway," he said. Video here, from Minute 12:30.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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