Skip to content

S. African Nicholas Haysom to succeed Michael Keating in Somalia

Storyline:National News
FILE: Nicholas Haysom will take over from outgoing envoy to Somalia Michael Keating. Photo: UN

South African Nicholas Haysom will be the next UN Special Envoy to Somalia and head of the UN Assistance Mission (UNSOM) replacing outgoing envoy Michael Keating.

UN Secretary General António Guterres announced Wednesday Haysom who until his new appointment was the UN Special Envoy to South Sudan and Sudan will take charge of the UN office in Somalia.

Haysom, an international lawyer with a long career focusing on democratic governance, constitutional and electoral reforms, reconciliation and peace processes has previously served as special envoy to Afghanistan from 2014 to 2016 and also in UN office in Iraq from 2005 to 2017.

Prior to his service in the UN, Haysom was a constitutional adviser to President Nelson Mandela and also helped in the South Sudanese peace process from 2002 to 2005.

The new UNSOM chief is succeeding Keating whose tenure runs out October 1. Keating assumed office in January 2016 succeeding then envoy Nicholas Kay.

Keating’s term in office was marked by major political developments in Somalia including the 2016/17 parliamentary and presidential elections which saw greater citizen participation compared to 2012 elections. Despite failing to meet the one person one vote threshold, the elections had an expanded electoral college of 14,025 delegates up from 135 in 2012.

There was a remarkable increase in the number of female MPs rising to 84 in both Houses of Parliament.

During Keating’s term, a new federal state HirShabelle was formed. The state whose formation became one of the most contested political processes in Somalia added to five the number of federal member states in Somalia besides the break-away region of Somaliland.

Just like his predecessor, Haysom is taking charge of the UN in Somalia at a time the country is gearing for another election slated for 2020. Prior to that are two key state elections in South West set for November this year and Puntland January next year.