The Parliamentarian of the Green Alliance and Left party, Aboubakar Soumahoro | Photo: ANSA/ANGELO CARCONI
The Parliamentarian of the Green Alliance and Left party, Aboubakar Soumahoro | Photo: ANSA/ANGELO CARCONI

The director of Caritas in San Severo in southern Italy told an Italian daily that thousands of euros in funds raised by persons near the newly elected parliamentarian Aboubakar Soumahoro were intended to buy toys for a migrant settlement that in fact had very few children.

Tension is rising against those who are considered to be part of the circle of Soumahoro, the former union member from Ivory Coast who was recently elected to the Italian Parliament.

This time the criticism -- as well as a dig -- against the parliamentarian of the Green and Left Alliance party comes from Caritas in San Severo, in the southern Italian region of Puglia. This area is where Soumahoro conducted some of his loudest fights to defend the rights of field workers.

In an interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica the Caritas director in San Severo, Father Andrea Pupilla, said that persons close to Soumahoro raised a total of €16,000 intended for the purchase of toys to be distributed in a migrant settlement that in fact had very few children.

This controversy comes after an issue involving Soumahoro's mother-in-law and wife who are under investigation for the management of two co-ops in the province of Latina. The two women were accused by some of the workers of not being paid, and an additional charge is the fact that in these shelters minors lived in an unacceptable condition.

Soumahoro has always declared his non-involvement with these issues.

The mystery of the toys for a place where children are very few

Father Andrea Pupilla in the interview said that last December Soumahoro was filmed while delivering presents to children, dressed up as Santa Claus. However, Pupilla continued, "in the Torretta ghetto there aren't any children, and in Borgo Mezzanone, where the video was shot, the children are few. So there were few toys to distribute as there were few children to receive them."

According to what Father Pupilla said, there were also other "problems, and we experienced the same, with some persons who first were affiliated to the Basic Labor Union (USB) and then to the Fieldworkers Union," where Soumahoro built his union member carreer.

Accused of seeking the limelight and of inconsistency

"They did not let us give Italian language courses or teach," continued Father Pupilla.

"We go to Torretta Antonacci every week to listen to people and to help them. Tension rises at times because there are always people coming from outside the town that come there to stir up trouble. And in some cases they may build a political career for themselves over it. In front of complex issues a collective answer is needed," added the Father.

"[Those answers] should not come from a Union member who comes from abroad, screams, takes selfies and builds a political career over it, especially when there is also some degree of inconsistency," Pupilla concluded.

The leaders of the Green Alliance and Left party, Angelo Bonelli and Nicola Fratojanni, asked their party's parliamentarian to meet with them on November 21 to discuss the issue. The two party leaders noted that despite their personal support to Soumahoro and the judicial aspects on the line "which will be clarified in court", "the case takes on a political dimension that regards everyone who, like ourselves and Soumahoro, holds a public role."


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