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Envoy calls for ICC probe on Somalia

Tuesday February 17 2009

Special Representative  for Somalia Mr Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah. Photo/MICHAEL MUTE

Special Representative for Somalia Mr Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah. Photo/MICHAEL MUTE 

By HENRY OWUOR in NAIROBI

There is a need to set up an international commission to address killings carried out by Somalis against their fellow countrymen, says a UN special representative for Somalia.

Such an initiative, says Mr Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, would overcome the conspiracy of silence currently evident over a country that has known no peace for close to two decades.

“The Security Council needs to adopt a resolution allowing the International Criminal Court (ICC) to handle impunity or war crimes committed by Somalis against Somalis. The conspiracy of silence over Somalia must end, you cannot just main, kill and torture and get away with it.’’

Speaking at his office in Nairobi, Mr Abdallah wondered why the Somali conflict was not being treated like other conflicts such as Congo, where suspects have been sent to the Hague for trial.

He said the international community ‘‘is treating the Somali conflict as if it is tired of it’’.

“Somalia is defying logic and the international community is defying the conflict and conducting studies instead of looking for a solution,’’ he added.

Mr Abdallah, who is the UN’s top diplomat on Somalia, wondered why a country that has been in conflict for 18 years was still considered as a humanitarian crisis. He said Somalia’s problems were political and the country was a major threat to its neighbours in terms of refugees, denied trade opportunities and a security problem as seen in the cases of piracy along its coast.

He said: ‘‘Piracy is not just affecting ships, it also increases prices (of commodities) and is also a potential environmental hazard if any of the ships such as the Saudi tanker,’’ was to be blown up by the pirates.

However, Mr Abdallah said that there was hope for the country after it elected a new President, Mr Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who is a former leader of the radical Islamic Courts Union.

Sheikh Sharif’s election followed a deal signed in Djibouti between the country’s transitional government and moderate Islamists. The Djibouti deal is open and any group can add its signature.