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After Somaliland Said UNSOM Can't Function There, Kay Keeps Talking

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 14 -- The day after Somaliland through its foreign minister told UN envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay that his UNSOM mission is not welcome in Somaliland, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky for the UN's response.

   Nesirky said he'd try to get an answer from the Department of Political Affairs. And soon this came in:

"From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]>
Date: Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 12:34 PM
Subject: Your question on Somaliland
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question on Somaliland at today's noon briefing, we have the following information from the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) to share:

Following meetings with officials in Somaliland, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, Mr. Nicholas Kay, said the following yesterday: 'I take very seriously the Somaliland government's concerns as expressed today. This is a complex and sensitive issue and I believe the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, UNSOM, can bring considerable benefits to Somaliland across a range of issues, while fully respecting its particular circumstances. I look forward to continuing the dialogue.'

Today, Mr. Kay met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somaliland to further discuss UNSOMís mandate and operations in Somaliland. There is a common will to continue the dialogue. We are following the situation closely and are in close contact with UNSOM. The United Nations is pleased that dialogue is continuing with Somaliland authorities."

  Inner City Press has obtained and is putting online the Somaliland letter. It says the UN

"ignores the reality of Somaliland's existence and functioning as an independent state since 1991 and the self-determination rights of our people. Since the purpose of such an office is to extend the remit of the federal government to Somaliland, my government is of the view that a UNSOM'S presences in Hargeisa will not be in the best interest of our country. Therefore, we can not allow UNSOM'S political office to function in Somaliland."

  The UN should not be surprised, though some perhaps are: as Inner City Press reported in April, Somaliland's letter to the Security Council was never distributed to the Council members. Then the UN system gave Somaliland's airspace to Somalia, triggering a ban on UN flights. Can Nicholas Kay turn this around? We'll see.

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