UNITED NATIONS —
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday named a new envoy for Somalia, nearly five months after his previous representative was declared persona non grata and expelled.
Career U.S. diplomat James Swan will be Guterres' special representative and head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).
Swan will replace South African Nicholas Haysom, who in January was ordered by the Somali government to leave the country, just four months after taking up his post.
The government was upset about a letter Haysom sent to authorities raising the case of Mukhtar Robow, a former al-Shabab leader who has moved into politics and sought to participate in elections in the South West State.
The national electoral commission banned Robow from running, while the South West State electoral body said he could be a candidate. Robow was arrested in December, and violent protests ensued both for and against the decision.
Swan has spent most of his career working on Africa issues, most recently as U.S. ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He is no stranger to Somalia, having been the U.S. special representative for that country from August 2011 to July 2013. According to the U.S. State Department website, in that role Swan led U.S. diplomatic, security and stabilization initiatives that resulted in Washington's recognition of a Somali government for the first time in 20 years.
Swan has also served as U.S. ambassador to Djibouti and was deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs from 2006 to 2008, overseeing U.S. policies and programs in 23 African countries. He has also served in U.S. missions in the Republic of Congo and Cameroon.
A U.N. spokesman said Swan would be deployed to Somalia as soon as possible.