Somalilandsun-United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Nicholas Kay, a diplomat from the United Kingdom, as his new Special Representative for Somalia, it was announced Monday.
Kay succeeds Augustine Mahiga of Tanzania, who has served as Special Representative and head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) for the last three years and will complete his assignment on 3 June 2013.
In the announcement of the new appointment, the UN chief paid tribute to Mahiga’s “exemplary leadership” in helping to steer the conclusion of Somalia’s eight-year political transition in the summer of 2012.
Ban recalled “with deep appreciation the fact that Mr. Mahiga’s contributions had laid the foundation on which the Federal Government of Somalia, with the help of the international community, can now further engage on peacebuilding and the consolidation of security and development initiatives in the country.”
Kay is currently the Africa Director at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Prior to this, he served as Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan from 2007 to 2010 and 2010 to 2012, respectively.
He was also the UK’s Regional Coordinator for Southern Afghanistan and Head of the Provincial Reconstruction Team for Helmand Province from 2006 to 2007. His career also includes diplomatic stints in Spain and Cuba, as well as 14 years of work as an English teacher in a number of countries.
As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Somalia, Kay will be responsible for leading UN efforts to assist the country’s leaders and citizens to build peace, political stability and a hopeful future after decades of conflict.
Somalia marked a historic political watershed last August when the first formal Parliament was sworn-in and ended a so-called “transition” phase which had begun with the 2004 launch of a UN-backed interim government. The previous functioning government ended in 1991 with the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
The Horn of Africa nation is currently emerging from a long and difficult period of instability, with representative institutions and a new government that has made a commendable commitment to uphold human rights and the rule of law for all. Despite these positive developments, the country still witnesses frequent bombings and militant attacks, mainly in Mogadishu.