Somalia, SRSG Ambassador Nicholas Kay and His Useless Clock

by Abdurahman Hosh Jibril

As 2015 draws to an end and as Nick Kay’s lordship over Somali affairs comes to a conclusion, it is worth reflecting on the legacy the Special Representative of the Secretary General ( SRSG) to Somalia, arguably the  most important international diplomat to Somalia in the last two and half years, leaves behind. Unfortunately, the record does not really need any examination as it jumps in ones face as a public record steeped in incompetence and bereft of any politically sound judgments. Although his office was very good at manipulation, clever sound bites and carefully stage-managed photo ops and positive press releases, Nick Kay as a peace envoy was a complete failure, and his failures of either omissions or commissions would have profound political and security ramifications for the Somali public as he soon retires in the UK supposedly basking on “false” laurels of service in Somalia. When a snapshot history of Somalia of the past few years is interrogated in the context of the UN involvement, Mr. Kay would shine out as one of the most incompetent SRSG Somalia has ever hosted: Arrogant, racist, colonial and ignorant of critical local issues. He leaves Somalia worse than where it was left in 2012 by SRSG Ambassador Augustine Mahiga on every index measurable.

It was therefore most disconcerting to learn that on December 23, 2015, Somali officials held a farewell party in Mogadishu. On that occasion, another miserably failed leader, HSM publicly praised Ambassador Kay for his “accomplishments”. I guess it takes one failed leader to recognize another. I say good riddance to Nick Kay and I am appalled that some of my friends have shown the bad wisdom of attending his farewell party.

Bogus Milestones Driven by the Clock/Time Lines of Nick Kay

Every milestone claimed on behalf of Somalia on endless Communiques and for which Nick Kay cites as a success milestone was driven by Nicholas Kay and international community clock time and agenda and were geared for the ears of Policy makers in metropolitan cities in Europe and America. The rushed interim administrations follow an erie pattern designed to impress international agendas. Here are some examples: During the Jubaland Addis Ababa agreements at the end of August 2013 (and I was present in the meetings there in Addis), international community members were openly forcing the signing of an agreement because on the first week of September 2013, there would be the ” all important” New Deal conference in Brussels. Note that the targeted object of the forced agreement was not aimed at resolving the complex, emotion-laden conflict in Jubbaland involving human antagonists on the ground, but at a Donor Conference in Brussels that would supposedly pledge money for Somalia. As you would learn subsequently, this was the warped thinking of Nickolas Kay and his partners within the international community: Exhibitions, pyrotechnics and fireworks for the benefits of project management reporting that have nothing to do with corresponding realities on the ground.

Two years after the signing of the Jubbaland agreement in respect of a Brussels clock, the real Jubaland peace process is underway now thanks to the courage and political smartness of Ahmed Madobe who reminds us in every speech that we are working on the time lines of the IC and not our agenda. Without the prodding of the clock of Nick Kay and company, President Madobe is engaged in sustained political outreach to his adversaries and aggrieved communities to soldier a peace deal; Two years after Brussels and his own!

Similarly, on November 17,  2014, a shot gun type wedding was orchestrated which proclaimed the South West State of Somalia without peace building ground work. Why, because in a few days, there would be a High Level Partnership Forum conference  on the New Deal on Somalia in Copenhagen. As a matter of fact, the Copenhagen Communique dated November 20, 2014 states, among other platitudes, “We welcome progress towards the formation of interim administration in South-West”.

In addition, the Galmudug debacle of 2015 and continuing is all too familiar where HSM stole a sham election with the complicity of Kay and company. Why the complicity? Because within a month of that, Nicholas Kay was handing his last project management report to the Security Council in September 2015.

In each of these Rushed regional states of Jubaland, South West State and Galmudug,  the regional leadership sadly has control over only the putative regional capitals and do not have their writ extended to the rest of the region; hence respective administrations control only Kismayo, Baydhaba, Cadaado. In each of these states, Kay helped leave behind political land mines that need to be attended to carefully through settlement of political issues and his actions have contributed to hundreds of lives lost in Kismayo, in Baydhabo, in Guriceel and most recently in Galkayo.

That is essentially the legacy of Ambassador NicholasKay and his time line and clock driven agenda, which were not designed to serve the interests of Somalia. His lack of political judgment may set the cause of Federalism and devolution some light years back because of the conflicts/grievances his decisions have left behind. He may also have potential blood on his hands when History is re-examined and properly interrogated. But to paraphrase a famous saying ” Nick Kay may have had the clock, but as he leaves in utter failure, we Somalis have the time and there is a difference between having the clock and having the time”.


Avv. Abdurahman Hosh Jibril is the former Minister of Constitutional Affairs. He is currently a member of the Somali Federal Parliament

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