Statement to the Security Council by Mr. Aziz Pahad, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa on Behalf of the African Union Mediation Mission to Cote d'Ivoire. United Nations Security Council, New York 26 April 2005

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Mr President

Allow us to thank you Mr President for inviting the African Union Mediation Mission to once again brief the Security Council on the situation in Cote d' Ivoire.

On 28 March 2005, we informed the Security Council about the efforts the African Union had undertaken to contribute to the peace process in Cote d' Ivoire. On that occasion, we also informed you that the AU Mediator, President Thabo Mbeki, was to convene an important meeting of the Ivorian leaders in Pretoria on 3 April 2005.
We are happy to report that the meeting took place as scheduled and lasted for three days. Present at the meeting were President Laurent Gbagbo, former President Konan Bedie, former Prime Minister Allassan Ouattara, Secretary General of the Forces Nouvelles, Mr Guillame Soro and Prime Minister Seydou Diarra. All the principals were supported by their senior leaders, advisers and officials.

The outcome of the three-day meeting was the Pretoria Agreement that the Mediator has presented to the Council and requested that it be endorsed and circulated as an official document of the Security Council. Without doubt, the Pretoria Agreement represents new hope for the Ivorian people, who have long been yearning to return to peace and stability in their country and has introduced a new urgency in the implementation of previous undertakings.

THE PRETORIA AGREEMENT

The Pretoria meeting was held in a very cordial and relaxed atmosphere. President Mbeki chaired the meeting and actively participated in the discussions. At times the Ivorian leaders used the opportunity to have discussions among themselves on some of the long outstanding and contentious issues. This in itself was a significant achievement since these are parties that have not had the opportunity to exchange views in a long time.

Some key areas addressed by the Pretoria Agreement include:

· The joint declaration of the end of war in which the Ivorian parties that are signatories of the agreement declare their immediate and final cessation of all hostilities in their country.
· The disarmament and dismantling of the militia throughout the country.
· The disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the armed formations leading to the creation of one army for the whole of Cote d'Ivoire.
· Ensuring security in the area under the New Forces.
· The acceptance of a plan for the security of the New Forces' Ministers of the Government of National Reconciliation.
· The parties that are signatories further commit themselves to making amendments to the composition, organisation and function of the Independent Electoral Commission to ensure free, fair and transparent elections by 31 October 2005. The parties requested the Mediator to seek the assistance of the United Nations in the electoral process.
· The agreement recognises the important role of the media, particularly the RTI, and agrees that the programming of the radio and television stations should cover the entire territory of Cote d'Ivoire.
· The meeting discussed the finalisation of the adoption of Article 35 of the Ivorian Constitution. In this regard, the Mediator was asked to make a determination on this matter, after consultation with the Chairperson of the African Union and the Secretary General of the UN.

PROGRESS SINCE THE SIGNING OF THE PRETORIA AGREEMENT

Article 35

The letter setting out the Mediator's determination on Article 35 has also been presented to the Security Council with the request from the Mediator that its contents also be endorsed and circulated as a document of the Council.

The essence of the determination is that President Gbagbo would after consulting with the President of the National Assembly and Constitutional Council use Article 48 of the Constitution which would allow the Ivorian Constitutional Council to accept the eligibility of the candidates that would be presented by the political parties that were signatories to the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.
Once the Mediator communicated the determination to the Ivorian leaders, President Gbagbo engaged the broader Ivorian population in order to enlist their support for the determination. President Mbeki agreed with this approach.

President Gbagbo undertook a series of consultations with among others, the youth groups, trade unions, women's groups traditional chiefs, Members of parliament and the military with a view to discuss the Pretoria Agreement and President Mbeki's determination. This process has been instructive in that it provided a platform for the airing of different views, something that can benefit the democratic process in Cote d'Ivoire . The central message coming from all these groups is that President Gbagbo should, in the interest of peace, use Article 48 to effect the amendment to the constitution as determined by the Mediator.

It is expected that President Gbagbo will make a statement on Article 35 soon.

Meetings of the Chiefs of Staff

The Chiefs of Staff of FANCI and FAFN met on Thursday, 14 April 2005 as agreed in the Pretoria Agreement. The Prime Minister was accompanied by several Ministers who witnessed the event. A communiqué was issued at the end of the meeting of 16 April 2005 endorsing the decision of Pretoria to renew contact between the two sides, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline and setting 15 May as the date for the commencement of the DDR. The Chiefs of Staff have since held several meetings, some in the north and others in the south, to work out modalities for the implementation of the commitments made in Bouake. The DDR programme started with the removal of heavy weapons from the frontline with effect form 21 April 2005. This development, which in itself symbolises the beginning of the integration of the country, has enjoyed widespread support from the population and generated new confidence in the peace process.

As part of our contribution to the peace process the South African National Defence Force has invited the Chiefs of Staff to Pretoria to share with them our experience in the integration of armed forces. It is hoped that this step will consolidate the developing co-operation between these officers. The Chiefs of Staff, accompanied by five senior members from each side, arrived in Pretoria this morning.

Amendments to legislation

The Council of Ministers has started deliberations on the necessary amendments to ensure that laws passed comply with the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement and the determination of the Mediator in this regard.

Participation of Forces Nouvelles' Ministers in the GNR

An increasing number of Ministers have returned to Abidjan to assume their ministerial responsibilities including attending meetings of the GNR. The specialised unit of ONUCI in conjunction with Mediation is working out additional measures for Mr Guillame Soro to ensure his return to Abidjan to take up his ministerial responsibilities.

Training of Close Protection for Ministers

In an attempt to contribute towards the resumption of the functioning of the GNR, the Mediation has, at its own cost, undertaken to train members of the close protection of all the Forces Nouvelles' Ministers.
This training will take place in South Africa over a period of six weeks, starting from 2 May 2005. The training programme will also be open to protectors from the South, totaling approximately 135 personnel.
ONUCI should work out modalities to compliment this effort.

Role of the Media

The RTI has toned down its negative reporting and has started broadcasting positive reports on the Pretoria Agreement and the implementation thereof. It is hoped that the situation will further improve once the amendments as envisaged in the Pretoria Agreement have been completed. Efforts are being made to procure technical equipment to upgrade systems and ensure coverage of the entire country by the RTI.

REQUESTS ON THE ROLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS

There are two main areas where the Ivorian leaders have asked the United Nations, through the Security Council, to urgently assist them. These areas cover elections and security.
As we stated in our March presentation, any situation of protracted conflict, such as in Cote d'Ivoire, invariably results in deep-seated mistrust among the political players.
The request for assistance from the United Nations is informed by the need to ensure confidence as the Ivorians take the final steps towards the holding of elections in a peaceful and secure environment.
All the Ivorian parties are intent on holding elections by 31 October 2005. The AU and Mediator support this view and would hope that the United Nations would be ready to play its part in contributing to this outcome.

Elections

On elections, the Ivorian leadership has, through the Pretoria Agreement, asked the Mediator to request the United Nations to establish an impartial structure that would assist them during the entire electoral period.

It is envisaged that this structure would assist the Ivorian Independent Electoral Commission, as well as the Constitutional Council, in the discharge of their functions without being a part of the two structures.

In the context of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, the UN impartial structure would also assist in the process to streamline the issuing of nationality documents and identity cards.
This structure would be empowered to assist both in the formulation and execution of policies and plans for the elections.

This structure would be set up immediately, and be required to intervene with the relevant Ivorian authorities where necessary.

Security

On security, the Ivorian leaders ask for assistance in three areas that the Mediator also supports.
First, it would be necessary to protect the Forces Nouvelles (FN) cantonment sites. The Security Council would need to consider a deployment of a special force under ONUCI to carry out this function. The presence of this force would contribute to building confidence in the DDR process that is critical to peaceful transition in Cote d'Ivoire.

Secondly, the Ivorians request - and the Mediator concurs - that assistance be made available for the recruitment, training and deployment of a police contingent of 600 personnel in the North in order to avoid a security vacuum once the FN forces move into cantonment areas.

It is envisaged in the Pretoria Agreement that the 600 recruits would undergo abridged training conducted by ONUCI. The new recruits would be mentored by ONUCI and served under guidance of the UN forces. Once normal policing has been reinstated in the North, these recruits would go back to the police and gendamarie academy for further training.

Third, the assistance of the United Nations is sought with regard to the disarmament of the militias. The UN has the needed expertise to assist the Prime Minister in carrying out this objective.

The outcomes of all these requests can only be achieved if the UN and the international community are ready to act decisively and urgently in support of the positive developments by:
· Adjusting the mandate of ONUCI to cater for the election supervision mechanism and to support the disarmament of the militia;
· Increasing the capacity of ONUCI to meet the additional tasks emanating from the Pretoria Agreement;
· Actively participate in the policing functions in the North during the interim period; and
· Providing adequate and immediate funding for the DDR process.

CONCLUSION
Once again, we thank the Council for having afforded us the opportunity to brief on the peace process in the Cote d'Ivoire. As Mediation we are determined to ensure that the elections take place as agreed and we implore the UNSC to take the necessary decisions and steps to realize this objective.

We are certain that working together, we can assist the Ivorian people as they search for an end to the crisis prevailing in their country. The African Union stands ready to act together with you to ensure that we realize this outcome for the benefit of the Ivorian people.

I thank you for your attention.

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Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 - 990 4853
c/o Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag x152
Pretoria
0001
26 April 2005



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