The head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) is fighting off allegations of corruption, mismanagement, harassment and political interference.
This follows a series of accusations that could damage the credibility of Amisom.
An internal report by the African Union (AU) criticises Francisco Madeira for mistreating employees – including refusing to provide sanitary towels – using abusive language, hijacking Amisom donations to gain political mileage and taking sides in situations where the mission is expected to be neutral.
The revelations came as some Somali politicians petitioned the AU to have the Mozambican diplomat recalled.
“Madeira has said several times that Amisom will remain neutral during political disputes between Somali politicians but this has not been matched by his actions,” says a leaked report filed last week by the Amisom Mission cell analysis chief, Walters Samah.
“Madeira introduced an erratic management and leadership style, characterised by fear, suspicion, threats, corruption, favouritism, bullying and intimidation,” the reported added, warning that if unchecked, the mission may fail to use its position to support the political process in Somalia.
Madeira has been the head of Amisom since January 2016 when he replaced Tanzanian diplomat Augustine Mahiga as the special representative of the AU chairperson to Somalia.
But as the head of a mission charged with helping stabilise the Horn of African country, Madeira’s public opinions have been controversial, the report says.
The document was tabled in the office of AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui, under whom Amisom falls.
Amisom – created in 2007 to help beat down the terrorist group al-Shabaab – now has five troop-contributing countries. They are Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Ethiopia.
Analysts say Amisom has played a critical role in peace and state building and the wider stabilisation of Somalia.
But the report adds that Amisom leadership has regularly interfered with politics in Somalia, often by siding with the federal government or simply looking the other way when civilian rights are trampled on.
Last week, lawmakers in Mogadishu pushed for the removal of Madeira for reportedly meddling in the country’s internal matters.
In a virtual meeting with the United Nations Security Council last week, Madeira said plans for elections are on course, even though there has been no date set.
The federal government has not agreed with the states on the model of the elections.
In a separate comment, the Mozambican appeared to touch raw nerves when he termed a recent power-sharing agreement in Jubbaland as favouring one clan.
He argued that Amisom “takes note” of the agreement in which opponents of Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe agreed to endorse his election victory in exchange for plum government jobs.
“We, however, insist on the need to go further and make sure that all clans come together in an all-Jubbaland stakeholders’ congregation to find a lasting solution to the political, social and economic problems that continue to besiege that federal member state,” Madeira said.
The comment angered some leaders, mainly Madobe’s allies, who saw it as siding with Mogadishu, which has refused to recognise the Jubbaland leader.
In an online petition, at least two dozen MPs supported the call to have AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat recall Madeira.
Abdimalik Abdullahi, a researcher on Horn of Africa politics, said Madeira had touched on a sensitive issue.
“His explicit mentioning of clans was uncalled for, at least for a diplomat of his calibre,” he told The EastAfrican.
“Madeira should have left it to the local politicians. Diplomatic correctness is paramount in the context of Somalia,”
With four years in Somalia, some observers argue Madeira may have overstayed his welcome, allowing politicians to use him.
“This is a problem of the AU not changing its envoys routinely. Somalis are very smart,” Abdallah Ibrahim, the founder of the think tank East African Centre for Research and Strategic Studies, argued on Friday.
“Somalia’s main problem is clan matters. When you appear to be friends with one, you will of course be seen as taking sides in a national issue.”
The East African