The statement followed an announcement by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres saying he intends to appoint a new envoy to replace Nicholas Haysom who had fallen foul of the Somali government.
Members of the UN Security Council “expressed their regret” at the Somali government’s decision to declare UN envoy Nicholas Haysom as persona non grata.
At the same time it “underscored the strong and continued commitment of the international community to support peace, stability and development,” said the press statement.
Haysom, a South African lawyer, had been in the job for just over three months. He previously worked as UN envoy to Afghanistan, as a UN director for political, peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs in the secretary general’s office and for the UN mission in Iraq.
However, the Somali government accused him of meddling in the country’s internal affairs, saying he was no longer welcome to work in the country. Haysom had raised concerns with the government over the arrest of a former militant from the hardline Al-Shabaab group who was stopped from running in a regional election.
The UN envoy said in comments to the UN Security Council that the Somali’s government’s interference did not “bode well for the well” for other regional elections or the expected 2020 national elections.
A spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that he had “full confidence” in Haysom who had “distinguished himself in numerous senior leadership roles”. Nevertheless, Guterres decided to appoint a new UN envoy, despite pointing out that the concept of persona non grata does not apply to UN personnel.
The Somali government had been particularly critical of what it said were attempts by Haysom to violate the sovereignty and independence of the country.
"We reject the criticism and attempt to re-brand renewed terrorists as an ice cream salesperson without redeeming themselves," Somalia's UN Ambassador Abukar Dahir Osman told the UN Security Council on Thursday, according to the Reuters news agency.
The French government said on Wednesday that it “deplores” the unilateral action by the Somali government and offered its “full support” for Haysom, saying he had “always distinguished” himself at the UN as well as in South Africa.
Eliot Engel, the recently elected chairperson of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he had concerns about what Haysom’s expulsion said about how the situation in the country is evolving.
“Amidst deteriorating governance conditions and a stalemated battle against Al-Shabaab, the expulsion of UN Somalia Envoy Nicholas Haysom compounds my concerns about the direction in which Somalia is headed,” said Engel in a tweet on Wednesday by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee.