Investigative journalist Mattew Russell Lee of the Inner City Press (IPC) today exposed Dinesh Mahtani, a member of the UN Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group from the UK, after he found proof that Mahtani requested favors from member states on behalf of a former Eritrean official using UN SEMG letterheads.
Though completely out of his role as a financial expert of the SMEG, the letter from Dinesh Mahtani, however, asked the Australian government for a favour to facilitate the former Eritrean Minister of Information with a full refugee status so that he could travel as necessary and coordinate ‘his activities‘.
The letter continues by saying that “Ali Abdu has great potential to play a stabilizing role in Eritrea with the country possibly headed to an uncertain period in its history.”
“Without moderate figureheads such as Ali Abdu, a transitional process in Eritrea may fall prey to polarizing and possibly violent forces.”
Is that not illegal and outside of his capacity as an expert appointed to the UN SEMG? Was that not outside of his mandate too?
The Eritrean government filed a complaint almost instantly calling Mahtani’s inappropriate behavior as something that “cannot be tolerated”. It also describe the letter as tantamount to a “regime change” using a UN letter-head.
Later today, however, UN Spokesman confirmed that the Chairman of the UN SEMG accepts the resignation of Dinesh Mahtani as the financial expert of the UN Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group.
Ever since the establishment of the SEMG, there have been several calls on the Security Council to address the apparent double standards, anti-Eritrea bias, and the SEMG’s lack of independence.
With experts like Dinesh Mahtani and former coordinator Matt Bryden as members of the monitoring group, it is not difficult to imagine why past SEMG reports on Eritrea have lacked transparency, consistency, equality, due process and proportionality.