Statement by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa, Mr. Aziz Pahad to the United Nations Security Council on the African Union Cote D'Ivoire Mediation Mission, New York, March 28, 2005

Mr President, Excellencies

We thank Brazil, President of the Security Council for holding this important meeting to consider the situation in Cote d'lvoire.

We would like to thank the Secretary General for his fourth progress report on the United Nations Operation in Cote d'lvoire.

The current crisis in Cote d'lvoire began a decade ago when the leader of one of the Ivorian political parties and former Prime Minister, Alassane Ouattara of the RDR, was prohibited from standing as a candidate during the 1995 Presidential Elections. As a result of this, the current President of Cote d'lvoire, and leader of the FPI, decided not to contest those Presidential Elections. Consequently, this combination of circumstances meant that a significant section of the Ivorian population had reservations about the legitimacy of the Government formed after the 1995 Elections. This initiated a political crisis that led to the December 25, 1999 coup d'etat, the first in the country's history as an independent country. The 2000 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections did not solve this crisis, but, arguably, served further to entrench it.

This was because, among other things, these Elections excluded Alassane Ouattara and former President Henri Konan Bedie, leader of the PDCI-RDA, from the Presidential Elections; and resulted in the boycott of the Parliamentary Elections by the RDR; and were characterised by low voter participation. The situation worsened radically when there was an attempted coup d'etat in September 2002, which resulted in the division of the country into two parts, with the South controlled by the Government and the North by the rebel forces, the Forces Nouvelles. In January 2003, the various political forces of Cote d'lvoire, including the Government, concluded an agreement at Linas Marcoussis, France, which spelt out various steps intended to end the Ivorian crisis.

Before this, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, had also been involved in sustained efforts to help resolve the problems of Cote d'lvoire, a member state of the Economic Community. The UN subsequently joined ECOWAS in this process, after the Security Council set up the United Nations Mission in Cote d'lvoire (MINUCI) in May 2003, which was subsequently replaced by ONUCI as from April 4, 2004. Concerned that by July 2004, none of these various interventions had produced any satisfactory result, the UN Secretary General, H.E. Mr Kofi Annan, acting in cooperation with the then Chairperson of ECOWAS, H.E. President John Kufuor, convened a meeting in Accra, Ghana at the end of July 2004. This meeting was attended by the UN SG, the Ivorian political leaders, and a significant number of African Heads of State and Government, drawn from all the African sub-regions. Among other things, the meeting, entitled Accra III, set deadlines for the implementation of various measures to expedite the peace process in Cote d'lvoire.

On October 19, 2004, two-and-a-half months after Accra III, the UN SG expressed serious concern at the failure of the Ivorian parties to meet the deadlines contained in the Accra III Agreement. ECOWAS echoed this statement a few days later, stating that it "fully shares the views expressed by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan."

Following the expression of these legitimate concerns, the situation in Cote d'lvoire seemed to move even further away from a resolution of the crisis addressed during the Accra meeting, and the implementation of the Accra III Agreement.

This was caused by the unacceptable November 4-6, 2004 attacks against the Forces Nouvelles, carried out by the Ivorian Air Force, which also included the apparently accidental bombing of the positions of Licome, and the death of a number of French soldiers.

The French soldiers, in turn, destroyed some military planes belonging to the Ivorian forces. The Young Patriots were out in the streets in their thousands and foreigners were being evacuated from Cote d'lvoire. The airport in Abidjan was closed down. Business premises were destroyed and some homes attacked. There was shooting outside the Hotel Ivoire.

It was in the light of all these developments, immediately preceding and following the November events, and the fact that the peace process in Cote d'lvoire seemed to have reached a cul-de-sac, that the Chairperson of the African Union, H.E. President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, asked H.E. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to act as the Mediator of the AU to expedite the Ivorian peace process.

Understanding the urgency of this matter, President Mbeki acted immediately to respond to the request of the AU Chairperson. Accordingly, he visited Abidjan on November 9, 2004, even as this city was in the grip of a serious security crisis following the events of the 4 - 6 November.

This necessitated that instead of waiting until security in Abidjan and Cote d'lvoire was guaranteed, President Mbeki had to provide his own security as well as secure the cooperation of the governments of Cote d'lvoire and France, to ensure that he acted immediately to honour the request of the AU.

That sense of urgency continues to inform the activities of the AU Mediation, especially given the need to hold the next Presidential Election in October this year, as planned, and the fact of the deteriorating socio-economic situation in Cote d'lvoire.

After considering the interventions that had been made since 2002 to solve the Ivorian crisis and having engaged the entire spectrum of the Ivorian political leadership in discussion, the AU Mediation arrived at the following important conclusions:

  1. That, as mandated, it should seek a solution of the Ivorian crisis within the framework of the Linas Marcoussis and the Accra II and III Agreements;
  2. That it should work out a Road Map with specific time frames, indicating a variety of steps that would have to be taken to put the Ivorian peace process back on course; and,
  3. That all the Ivorian parties should agree to these propositions, and thus commit themselves to a peaceful and negotiated resolution of the Ivorian crisis.

We are pleased to confirm to the Security Council that the continuing efforts of the Mediation are based on the acceptance of these fundamental propositions by all the Ivorian parties.

As the Security Council knows, and as is normal in any situation of protracted conflict, as in Cote d'lvoire, deep-seated mistrust among the Ivorian leaders continues to bedevil the advance towards the resolution of the Ivorian crisis.

We therefore consider it of cardinal importance that despite the differences among themselves, the Ivorian leadership is at least united behind the three fundamental propositions we have mentioned, without which it would be impossible to arrive at a peaceful and negotiated solution of the Ivorian crisis.

We would also like to emphasise this point because it is clear that the peace settlement in Cote d'lvoire requires the cooperation and involvement of all the Ivorian leaders. It is therefore vitally important that we operate on the basis of the principle and practice of inclusion rather than exclusion.

This is especially important given that the ideology and practice of exclusion lie at the very heart of the Ivorian crisis. Accordingly, this crisis cannot be solved on the basis of the exclusion or marginalisation of any of the players that Cote d'lvoire needs to arrive at a lasting settlement.

Needless to say, this does not mean that any of these players has a right wilfully to obstruct or block progress towards this settlement. It is therefore centrally important that the Security Council and the African Union should have the possibility to impose effective sanctions against any of these players who might act wilfully to deny the people of Cote d'lvoire their right to peace, democracy and development.

We appreciate the fact that the Security Council is fully conscious of the factors that led to the Ivorian crisis, including those we have not mentioned. Nevertheless we must emphasise the distinguishing feature of contemporary Cote d'lvoire, which marks it out as the home of many African national groups, some of which originate from the neighbouring countries.

Pervasive poverty makes it inevitable that the struggle for access to economic resources and opportunities must be a distinct feature of African politics. The liberal policies implemented by Cote d'lvoire since independence, combined with the regional developments during the colonial period, resulted in the emergence of a cosmopolitan population in Cote d'lvoire.

Consequently, a significant proportion of this population, of different generations, originates from the neighbouring countries. As has happened in many other countries everywhere else in the world, in conditions of relative socio-economic hardship, xenophobic tensions arise. In Cote d'lvoire, this has found expression in the concept of "ivoirite".

As the Security Council knows, the fundamental and long-term solution of the Ivorian crisis requires that Cote d'lvoire should successfully address a whole range of matters, including issues that bear on nationality, political rights, the land question, and co­existence in a multi-cuttural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.

All this signifies that the understandable concern to address immediate issues, which might be symptoms of more fundamental problems, should not result in short-term solutions that make it more difficult to arrive at solutions that address the more long-term and therefore more fundamental problems of Ivorian society.

Both the AU and the UN have an obligation to pursue the solution of the Ivorian crisis with sober minds, and resist the temptation to arrive at short-term solutions that disguise the real problems, and therefore create the basis for a more intractable crisis in future.

The AU Mediation is preoccupied with all these considerations, and works on the basis of the inter-connection between the short and long term interests of the Ivorian people. In this regard, we sincerely hope that the UN and all those interested in the future of Cote d'lvoire, should not allow for an unbalanced approach among the short, medium and long term interests of the Ivorian people.

We believe that the Security Council is in possession of the Reports that the AU Mediation has submitted to the Chairperson of the AU, especially the third Report of December 9, 2004.

We attached our Road Map to this Report. We continue to pursue this Road Map with the Ivorian parties as the only available route towards the settlement of the Ivorian crisis.

We would also like to take advantage of this opportunity to thank all the people who contributed to the elaboration of this Road Map. As the Security Council is aware, President Mbeki asked various institutions to join his delegation when he visited Cote d'lvoire last December.

Accordingly, his delegation included representatives of the UN Secretary General, the AU, ECOWAS, the EU, the World Bank and the IMF. The Road Map to which we have referred was drawn up by this delegation together, rather than the AU Mediation on its own.

The AU Mediation was pleased that the important institutions we have just indicated could take joint ownership of the programme of action that emerged out of a five-day process of detailed consultations with all the Ivorian parties.

Apart from anything else, all this confirmed the importance of the follow-up mechanisms provided for in the Linas Marcoussis and Accra III Agreements, and the obvious need for the AU Mediation to work together with these mechanisms.

With your permission, we will now proceed to indicate the progress and problems we have experienced with regard to the implementation of the Road Map, copies of which we believe each member of the Security Council has. But first we would like to draw the attention of the Security Council to some principled conclusions.

In general, the AU Mediation believes that significant progress has been made with regard to the adoption of the legislation prescribed by the Linas Marcoussis Agreement. We will report on the outstanding challenges in this regard.

The constitutional text of Article 35 agreed at Linas Marcoussis, relating to the matter of eligibility for the Presidency, has been adopted by the National Assembly, by a majority than is even larger than that prescribed by the Constitution of Cote d'lvoire. However, the process of amending the Ivorian Constitution in this regard has not been finalised.

In this regard, we must make the observation that the Ivorian Constitution requires that all amendments on matters affecting the election of the President of the Republic should be approved by referendum. No provision exists in the Ivorian Constitution that would exclude Article 35 from this stricture.

As indicated in the Accra III Agreement, it is possible to override the Constitutional provisions with regard to Article 35, provided that exceptional circumstances in Cote d'lvoire make it physically impossible to hold a referendum.

The AU Mediation believes that it is necessary to get the collective view of the Ivorian political leadership to arrive at the optimal position for the finalisation of the Article 35 matter, in both the immediate and the long-term interests of Cote d'lvoire. The AU Mediation is therefore taking the necessary steps in this regard.

The DDR process should start as soon as the Regroupment/Assembly sites have been prepared, to enable them to receive members of FANCI and the Forces Nouvelles. Some concern has been expressed about the commitment of especially the FN to start with DDR. The Mediation approach to this matter is that we should accept the FN expressed willingness to go into regroupment sites. Our task is to ensure that the DDR sites in the north are ready. Later in this presentation, we will provide the necessary details in this regard.

The Government of National Reconciliation, the principal state institution responsible for the implementation of the various transitional measures leading up to the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections later this year, is still not functioning effectively. In part, this is due to the continuing non-participation in this Government of the Ministers of the Forces Nouvelles. We will give the Security Council further details in this regard.

Various problems continue to persist with regard to the general political and security situation, which undermine the peace process in Cote d'lvoire. For example, this was manifested by the recent unacceptable events in the western part of the country, when an armed group from the South crossed the Confidence Zone in violation of the Ceasefire, which resulted in a number of people being killed. The western part of Cote d'lvoire has a long history of conflict that could be exploited. Close attention would have to be paid to some of the underlying causes of such conflict. The FN informed the mediation about possible new attacks on its positions. The Mediation communicated this information to ONUCI.

As we have already indicated, the AU Mediation and the Ivorian parties are committed to the holding of the Presidential Elections in October, as scheduled. The Mediation is therefore ready to engage the electoral calendar the Prime Minister has drawn up, targeted at ensuring that the Elections later this year are held as scheduled.

The FN and G7 have called for the United Nations to play a bigger role in the conduct of the elections. The Mediator raised this matter with President Gbagbo during the visit in December 2004. He indicated that they would welcome such assistance. What remains is for the UN to indicate how such a role may be defined. The Ivorian parties need assistance with ideas and proposals of what is possible; they are not themselves able to make specific proposals. The Mediator has communicated this request to the UN Secretariat and awaits their urgent response.

The AU Mediation is also concerned that the necessary steps should be taken to ensure the unity, peace and stability of Cote d'lvoire, after the completion of the stage of the transitional period that will conclude with the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections later this year.

However, the Mediation is fully conscious of the reality that to get to the situation when, after the elections, practical steps can be taken in this regard, it is vitally important that the Road Map is implemented in a manner and within time frames that will ensure that credible elections are held later this year, as planned.

To resolve the outstanding challenges with regard to the implementation of the Road Map, and ensure further movement towards a lasting peace in Cote d'lvoire, a critical meeting between President Mbeki and the principal political leaders of Cote d'lvoire will take place in South Africa in six (6) days' time.

The AU Mediation will be honoured to report to the AU, the UN Security Council and the Ivorian people about the outcome of this immensely important meeting.

We would now like to revert to the details of the matters to which we have referred in general terms.

THE LEGISLATIVE REPORT

The parties agreed that the Mediation should constitute a legal team that would make a determination about the compliance of legislation passed with the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement. The Mediation constituted a team of lawyers from Burundi, Rwanda and South Africa. This team travelled to Cote d'lvoire and had extensive interaction with the Ivorian parties. The team then submitted their determination to the Mediator, who accepted their findings. A copy of the legal report is attached to this presentation for the information of the Security Council members.

The findings of the legal team confirm that significant progress had been made in relation to this part of the Agreements. Even though there were differences among the parties on the appropriate legislative texts, such differences related mainly to the interpretation of Linas-Marcoussis, rather than a reluctance to implement the Agreements. There are areas where the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement is not totally in line with prevailing international practice, such as in respect of the composition of a Human Rights Commission. The legal team's mandate, however, was not to improve Linas-Marcoussis or to bring it in line with current international practice, but to interpret it; strictly.

The findings of the legal team have been presented to the Ivorian parties and have largely been well received. Some of the parties indicated that they still wish to raise some political issues arising out of the legal report.
DDR

There has been little progress on DDR. One complaint from the FN is that the GNR has no comprehensive plan for the restructuring of the new defence force in Cote d'lvoire. The Mediation has urged the Prime Minister to ensure that such a comprehensive plan is adopted by the government. The Prime Minister has initiated a programme leading to such adoption.

The FN have also raised concern that they fear being attacked once they move their forces into DDR sites. To assist in this regard, the Mediation has proposed that an African country be approached to supply additional forces to ONUCI with a view to secure FN DDR sites. Such a force would be under the control of ONUCI, but would be deployed to ensure security around FN sites. The FN have assured the Mediation that they are ready to start the DDR process. They have gone on a month-long sensitization process to prepare their forces for DDR. The Secretary General of the FN has issued an instruction to that effect.

The main challenge with DDR is that the regroupment areas in the North are not ready. The Mediation has been part of a team of experts from ONUCI and the CNDDR that has been conducting inspection of such areas with a view to determining how best to expedite the rehabilitation of sites in the north. The Ivorian defence forces, FANCI, has indicated that they are ready to start the DDR.

THE FUNCTIONING OF THE GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL RECONCILIATION

The GNR is still not functioning properly. The main problem in this regard is that Ministers from the FN have raised concern about their security in Abidjan. The Mediation sent some South African security experts to Cote d'lvoire to assist in resolving this matter. The experts have now prepared a comprehensive security plan which will be presented to the Ivorian parties at the meeting scheduled for April 3, 2005.

To conclude, the AU Mediation would like to take advantage of this meeting of the Security Council sincerely to thank the Council, and the UN as a whole, for their sustained interest in the speedy resolution of the Ivorian crisis. We request that you remain seized of this question.

We request that the Security Council should be ready expeditiously to take all such decisions as may be necessary to empower ONUCI and the Special Representative of the Secretary General to help secure a peaceful resolution of the Ivorian crisis.

We welcome the Secretary General's recommendation for the emergency deployment of an additional 1 226 troops.

In this context, we are privileged to make the solemn commitment that the AU and its Mediation will cooperate fully with the UN Security Council, the Secretary General and other UN institutions and personnel, to help bring lasting peace to Cote d'lvoire as a matter of urgency.

We also trust that in their conduct, the UN and all its institutions and agencies, will respect and support the peoples of Africa, represented by the African Union, as they strive to find an African solution to the eminently African problem of the Ivorian crisis.

We therefore appeal to the Council that it should sincerely coordinate its future actions on Cote d'lvoire with the African Union, in the interest of genuine peace, stability and development in a united Cote d'lvoire.

The African Union understands, respects and supports the global responsibilities of the United Nations and the Security Council on various matters, including the central matter of international peace and security. The Union is also firmly committed to its own responsibilities with regard to the future of Africa, and therefore the elimination of all threats to international peace and security that emanate from our Continent.

We believe that these considerations provide a firm basis for a properly structured relationship between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council, which would further reinforce global progress towards world peace and lasting universal stability. The African Union is ready to do everything it can to ensure that Africa contributes to these outcomes.

We would also like to assure the members of the Security Council, both singly and collectively, that the African Union is unreservedly determined to help resolve the Ivorian crisis within the context of the parameters we have indicated in this Statement.

We look forward to effective cooperation between the UN and the AU in this regard and thank you, Mr President, esteemed members of the Security and Your Excellency,

Secretary General, for the opportunity you have given to the AU Mediation on Cote d'lvoire to address this august body.

We trust that what we have said will help the Security Council to take the necessary and correct decisions that will expedite the advance towards the solution of the protracted crisis in Cote d'lvoire.

I thank you for your kind attention.

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

28 March 2005


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