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In Somalia, Saracen Funder Secret, Link With AMISOM Denied, UN Not Briefed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 27 — Amid growing doubts about private military contractor Saracen working for the Somali Transitional Federal Government and Puntland, the lawyer for the program, former US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Pierre Prosper, spoke to a half dozen UN correspondents on December 23, ostensibly on background.

In remarks subsequently disseminated, Prosper said that he was briefing the Group of Experts of the UN’s Somalia Sanctions Committee but would not yet provide the name of the program’s funder, due to concerns the UN would leak it.

Afterward, Inner City Press on the record asked the outgoing chairman of the UN’s Somalia Sanctions Committee, Claude Heller of Mexico, if he or the Committee had been briefed about the use of PMCs or mercenaries in Somalia. No, Heller said, he had only read about it in the newspapers. Video here.

With Mexico leaving the Council at the end of the month, India is to be given the chair of the Somalia Sanctions Committee, as first exclusively reported by Inner City Press. Will Saracen reach out to India? We will be asking.

Inner City Press asked Prosper about the involvement in Saracen of a brother of President Museveni of Uganda, which provides the majority of African Union peacekeepers to the TFG. Prosper’s answer involved different arms of Saracen, one in South Africa as opposed to the Uganda based arm in which Museveni’s brother is involved.

When Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ruhakana Rugunda gave a briefing later in the day, Inner City Press asked about Museveni’s brother’s interest in Saracen. He is a retired general, Rugunda answered, of course he wants to stay involved in the field.

Rugunda said that Saracen’s “private” work “has nothing to do with AMISOM,” the African Union peacekeepers.  Video here. Does that mean the two don’t coordinate?

Some troops, answers on Saracen not shown

Despite three rounds of questions, two on the record and one on background, this use of mercenaries in Somalia gets more and more murky. Who is funding it? Watch this site.

Footnote: Ambassador Heller’s and Rugunda’s press conferences were in connection with each leaving the Council after two years. We hope to cover this wider context in the next few days. And we will report anything we hear on the record from Saracen, “the funder” or Mr. Prosper — even what he may think of his successor’s positions on war crimes ranging from Sri Lanka to Cote d’Ivoire.

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In Somalia, Entrepreneurs Prosper & Petrie Violate Sanctions in Puntland, TFG Tricks

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 6 — Somalia and Puntland have become hotbeds for diplomatic entrepreneurs as they leave the UN and US government. The UN’s Charles Petrie has said he will be working for the Transitional Federal Government — but some in the TFG are not so such, not least about for whom Petrie will be working.

On December 6, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky about a former US State Department official seemingly involved in violations of the 1992 UN Somalia sanctions regime:

Inner City Press: there is a former US official, Pierre Prosper, who has said that Puntland, the portion of Somalia, has hired a private military contractor, Saracen, to do anti-piracy work — that it’s being all funded by a Muslim nation that he wouldn’t name. So what I wonder is whether, given Mr. [Augustine] Mahiga or anyone in the UN, given both the prohibitions against mercenaries and also the 1992 sanctions on Somalia, what does the UN say to Puntland pretty openly, or at least as acknowledged by a former US official, hiring a mercenary firm to patrol the coast of Somalia, and what’s the UN going to do in light of this report?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, thanks for the question, Matthew, and let’s see what we can find out. I don’t have anything at the moment.

After UN business hours on December 6, Inner City Press asked SRSG Mahiga directly. He said the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General had not asked him, but to his credit gave a long and detailed answer.

Mahiga said he had told Puntland officials that they might well be violating the UN’s Somalia sanctions. They replied, according to Mahiga, that since it “doesn’t involve arms, it can’t violate the sanctions.” This is an inaccurate reading of the sanctions regime.

Mahiga asked if Prosper was still working for the US. Not on paper, is the answer. Mahiga said Petrie’s roll is even more confusing. According to Mahiga, Petrie wanted to work as a consultant to the TFG while still under UN contract.

Inner City Press previously corresponded with Petrie — one of the more intriguing UN officials — then asked for formal confirmation, of his letter, and his role.

UN’s Ban and Mahiga, Charles Petrie, Prosper and Somalia sanctions not shown

The following arrived:

From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply
To: Inner City Press
Subject: Your question on Charles Petrie

Mr. Petrie submitted his resignation from the UN effective 1 November, but was asked, for operational reasons, to postpone his departure to the end of the current mandate, which concludes 31 December, 2010. He is continuing to exercise his functions as ERSG for Burundi until that time. It was also decided that while still under the UN’s employ Mr. Petrie would provide some support to the UN Political Office for Somalia’s work with the Transitional Federal Government, drawing on his past experience as Deputy SRSG for Somalia. He is doing so in close collaboration with SRSG Augustine Mahiga.

But on December 6, Mahiga told Inner City Press that “No one knows who Petrie is working for.” Petrie says he had the agreement of the previous TFG, but according to Mahiga, the current government is not so sure. Watch this site.

SOURCE: http://www.innercitypress.com/som6cons122710.html

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