• I take responsibility because it (letter) came out of my office. I regret deeply and I extend apologies to the president, government and the people of Somaliland.
• “This mistake shall never occur again under my watch”
• I have repeatedly, not only said here in Somaliland of the wonderful democratic experience which is a lesson to the other Somalis but to the whole of Africa
• Pays tribute to the local media for being inquisitive and vibrant
• Somaliland is one place where Millennium development goals-MDGs are visibly being implemented
• The world owes you (Somaliland) a dividend for Practical stability, democracy, transition and peace.
Amb Augustine Mahiga
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The United Nations Special Representative for Somalia has apologized to the people of Somaliland.
“I hereby extend my apologies to the President H.E Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo, the government and more the citizens of Somaliland for the mistake that occurred in an official letter sent from my office” Said Amb Augustine Mahiga during a joint press conference with foreign minister Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar at the presidency in Hargeisa in the morning of 26th November 2012
The apologize which comes after voracious condemnation of Amb Mahiga by the country’s media following the revelation of communication between UNPOS and president Silanyo by Geeska Afrika newspaper.
The mistake Mahiga apologized for pertains to a letter sent to the Somaliland head of state in which the Amb addressed Silanyo as “The president of Somaliland State of Somalia”
President Silanyo who replied to the letter on 20th November informed Mahiga Quote ” I refer to your letter dated 7 November regarding the review which the UN is to conduct of its operations in the Region.” President Silanyo said in his letter and added, “On behalf of the Somaliland government, I wish to correct the erroneous references in your letter to me as “The president of Somaliland State of Somalia” a title which my government considers inappropriate.”
“The reference is both inaccurate and discourteous, given that this nomenclature is not used by our government or by any other state that deals with us.”
Below are the full verbatim excerpts of the press conference
Foreign Minister Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar
QUOTE-We are very happy to host the UN Special representative to Somalia Ambassador Augustine Mahiga who is once again visiting the country on an official mission of his office, the United Nation Political Office for Somalia-UNPOS
We welcome Amb Mahiga to Somaliland as well as his mission which is related to the relationship between our country and the United Nations Organizations
During a lengthily meeting with the president H.E Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo that took place at the presidency in Hargeisa immediately upon arrival in the country of Amb Mahiga various issues were discussed as pertains to:
• The relationship between the UN and Somaliland
• Working partnership between the two entities
• UN involvement in local council elections to take place on 28th November 2012 among other matters
Apart from meeting and holding discussions with the head of state The UN Special Representative is also in the country to lead the UN election mission which is part of the international election Observers mission.
I hereby welcome Ambassador Mahiga to the podium thus a personal brief on his current mission to Somaliland-UNQUOTE
UN Special Representative Amb Augustine Mahiga
QUOTE- Thank you very much minister, I am delighted to be in Hargeisa again after several months.
This time I have come with a different tone to meet the president and foreign minister, to express my deep regrets and extend apologies and accept responsibility, for a letter which came from my office, to the president (Silanyo) with a gross clerical mistake.
I have told the president that the day the letter was written, send and signed electronically, I was not even in Nairobi or Mogadishu, and I was actually in Cairo Egypt attending a conference there.
But as usual when you leave an office there are people in the office and they are going to sent a letter announcing the coming here (Somaliland) of the UN delegation from New York and in that letter there was a SERIOUS mistake which was NOT corrected, worst still there is an electronic signature (Mahiga’s) in the office.
This signature was affixed to the letter and that is why Am saying I take responsibility because it (letter) came out of my office. I regret deeply and I extend apologies to the president, government and the people of Somaliland.
Many of you who know me or have heard me speak before, must have been wondering, IS THIS THE SAME MAHIGA! That we know has been very consistent in admitting and recognizing the aspirations of the people of Somaliland, that have come through a referendum.
I have repeatedly, not only said here in Somaliland of the wonderful democratic experience which is a lesson to the other Somalis but to the whole of Africa. The peace, the procedure and is really a strange coincidence of history that I come today to extend this apologies on the eve of your democratic practices, the fifth time (Referring to local council elections) and this is the fact that has fascinated me about Somaliland and as a peacemaker and as peace builder I have always cited the example of Somaliland to the rest of Africa and it has helped me a great deal in facilitating the peace process in Somalia.
I am even more delighted and encouraged that Somaliland and Somalia have agreed to enter into discussions, in order to reconcile, to find ways to accommodate the aspirations of the people of Somaliland, there is no other shortcut than to talk and the path you have taken is a major step in reaching that goal.
I have said to the president (Silanyo) to the foreign minister not only today but even before, that His Excellency Ban Ki Moon, the UN secretary General has repeatedly told me, be there and become a good messenger, to facilitate this contact, to enable them (SL & Somalia) to reach an amicable solution to accommodate the aspirations of Somali people.
When we were in London in February earlier this year, I brought Ban Ki Moon to meet president Silanyo and they had a good discussion on the margins of that meeting (conference on Somalia) and president Silanyo explained to the UN Secretary General the aspirations of Somali people and Somaliland and he encourage that what we have started is a very constructive step towards mutual understanding and reaching all the aspirations of Somaliland and accommodation in whatever agreement you reach with Somalia.
ON the media in Somaliland
Am very grateful and I want to wish all of you, and this clarification not only goes to the government but I want to clarify this to the media.
I have high respect for the Somaliland media, it is vibrant, it is transparent, it is enquiring and I think this is the way democratic practices should be, “A free transparent and enquiring independent media”
On this issue you (referring to the address of President Silanyo as president of a region of Somalia) you were not only reporting something but posing very fundamental questions and so I feel obliged not only to bring this clarification to the president, to the government but also this clarification to the media.
In your constructive and creative way, you carry the message which comes out of Somaliland, of peaceful democratic transition, of development that is oriented towards people, this is a new generation all of you I see here (referring to members of the press), you have a special message and I think a special duty to continue the messaging that is positive which comes out of this country, Somaliland and I wish you all the best, thank you- UNQUOTE
Foreign Minister Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar
QUOTE- Thank you very much Amb Mahiga, I would now like to conclude this press conference.
The people of Somaliland welcome, appreciate the explanation and regrets of Amb Mahiga as pertains the letter that emanated from his office on the 7th November and addressed our head of state as “The president of Somaliland State of Somalia”
The government and people of Somaliland accept the apology of Amb Mahiga and shall continue the prevalent relationship with the UN as well as accommodate its programs in the country, we also appreciate the recognition of the aspirations of the people of Somaliland, thank you-UNQUOTE.
After this statement by the minister a few questions were posed by members of the local media who had run out of steam after Amb Mahiga apologized for the erroneous address to the head of state
The lengthily Q& A shall be posted separately