Somalia's government has ordered the U.N. top envoy to the troubled country to leave, accusing him of "deliberately interfering with the country's sovereignty."
The order comes days after the official, Nicholas Haysom, raised concerns at the action of Somalia's U.N.-backed security services in recent violence that left several people dead. Haysom wrote to the Somali government on Dec. 30, requesting details of the legal basis of the arrest of Robow, as well as calling for investigations into the deaths in the protests following his detention. "The Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Haysom, is no longer welcome in Somalia and cannot operate in the country," the foreign ministry said in a statement late Tuesday.
Somalia's security forces used force to put down three days of demonstrations in the southwestern town of Baidoa on Dec. 13-15, with at least 15 people killed and 300 people arrested, according to the U.N. Protesters were angry at the arrest of Muktar Robow, a former leader who was vying for post of regional presidency. He was detained by the government accused of seeking to "undermine stability," and flown to the capital Mogadishu. Robow's arrest has been seen as a high-profile test of Somalia's treatment of defectors from the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, Africa's most active militant group. Somalia's government welcomed his defection but not his popular candidacy to lead Southwest state, which took some officials by surprise.