The United Nations Sanctions Monitoring Group Report: Witch-hunt or Means to Uncover the Truth?

Abdi Dirshe (KON) - A leaked report written by the United Nations Group of Experts to the Security Council’s Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee accuses the governor of the Central Bank of Somalia, Mr. Abdusalam Omer of engaging in the facilitation of corruption and the misuse of donor money by the leaders of the Somali government.

It characterizes the Central Bank as a “slush fund” for the Somali leaders to conduct personal and private matters. The confidential UN report as reported by Reuters partially covers a period in which the Bank governor was not in a decision-making capacity and allegedly acted as an advisor to the previous Transitional Federal Government.

Moreover, he has been a Bank Governor for about six months only now in which he has created a functioning bank. Given this fact, one fails to understand why Mr. Omer is singled out and demonized for financial crimes committed by previous corrupt leaders.

The UN Monitoring Group alleges that $16.9 million given to the Somali government by international donors, $12 million could not be accounted for. Much of this represents the previous report released on June 27, 2012 that accused the leaders of the Transitional Federal Government of misappropriation of funds and widespread corruption: “Under the Transitional Federal Institutions, the systematic misappropriation, embezzlement and outright theft of public resources have essentially become a system of governance, embodied in the popular Somali phrase ‘Maxaa iigu jira?’ (“What’s in it for me?”)

By September 2012 a new Somali national leadership was elected, replacing the corrupt TFG and for the short period that this government has been in power major steps have been taken to professionalize the security and public service sector, improving not only the security in the country but also the image of Somalia altogether.

This has led to tremendous confidence in the government and in the national institutions including the Central Bank. Thousands of Somalis come back to Somalia every month to rebuild the country. The international relations management of this government is impressive, leading to the return of major international organizations and diplomats to Somalia.

 This latest UN report is full of contradictions as it criticizes the current government while also calling the Minister of Finance beyond reproach and clears him of any wrong-doing. Much of the sources referred to in this confidential report are from the current Somali Minister of Finance, Mohamed Hassan Suleyman, ignoring the potential of conflict of interest and any political fallout this may cause. In this perspective, the report intentionally or inadvertently indicates that there may be a tension between the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank Governor.

As is common in cases of financial investigations, suspects are interviewed and given the opportunity to respond to allegations. Ironically, the UN Group of experts chose not to speak with the Bank governor to respond to allegations of being “the key to these irregularities”. This contradicts the international norms of justice and fairness and key principles of international law as this report undermines the efforts of the nascent Somali national institutions that many people continue to sacrifice for.

In his own defense, the Governor says that this report is designed to malign him and the institution he represents. He told reporters from Mogadishu, "this is an attempt to discredit me as the governor of the central bank and to discredit the embryonic financial institutions of the country, this is malicious and this is wrong."

The Central Bank Governor has recently returned from the United States where has been working for the local government of Washington, DC as deputy Chief Financial Officer and Budget Director. In his capacity as a Governor of the Central Bank of Somalia, he has modernized the operations of the bank, producing the first Annual Report of the Bank for the first time in two decades. Many Somalis are dismayed and are wondering if the UN report was truly seeking to uncover the truth or it is just a witch hunt to single out and demonize an innocent public servant in Africa for other political motives. The new Bank Governor of Somalia can surely count on the support of the Somali people who appreciate the sacrifices he has been making and for returning home to serve his people.

The United Nations Sanctions Committee should consider looking into the sources of its information and investigate if there is any motive of vested interests behind these actions as the mandate of the United Nations expert Group Monitoring Somalia is expiring this August 2013.

Abdi Dirshe


Abdi Dirshe is a political analyst, independent researcher and the current President of the Somali Canadian Diaspora Alliance. Contact Abdi at: a.dirshe@hotmail.com.




Editorial 13 May 2021 2:35

The current Somali government, whose mandate ended, came to power with the expectations of massive reforms in institutional and development settings. President Farmajo completed his term in office without paving the way for consensus-based elections; instead, he messed up the growing Somali institutions and the trust-building processes.