Notes Following Briefing by Deputing Minister Aziz Pahad on Côte d'Ivoire and Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza, Thursday, 18 August 2005

Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad

· Clearly the unfolding situations in Côte d'Ivoire and the Middle East are an indication of the importance of the forthcoming Foreign Affairs Imbizo (23 August 2005 from 09h00-13h00, UCT, Cape Town) since it will present an opportunity to understand the paradigm influencing international relations.
· The Imbizo will present an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas with members of the academic corps.

Ivory Coast

· President Mbeki this week held discussions with the United Nation's Secretary-General Special Envoy to Côte d'Ivoire, Mr Schorii and Mr Monterro, UN Supervisor for the elections. Discussions also looked at the obstacles in the preparations for elections and the implementation of the Pretoria Agreement.
· However, both Mr Schorii and Monterro are quite confident the conditions exist for elections to be held in October.
· In addition, the opposition parties believe that President Gbagbo's amendments are not in line with the Lineas Marcoussis Agreement.
· In this regard, President Mbeki deployed the legal team of the mediation team to the Ivory Coast to understand the legality and legitimacy of the laws being passed. These were found to be in order.
· The Legal team reported back to President Mbeki, who determined that the laws passed in July by President Gbagbo were consistent with the Lineas Marcoussis Agreement
· The opposition then began to attack President Mbeki and the mediation attempts in general.
· The difference of opinion in the mediation teams legal pronouncement and the laws promulgated may lie in the translation. We hope that the mediation team will be able to understand.
· However, the nationality issue does remain a problem since it impacts on the identification of voters.
· Force Nouvelles has not yet identified their representation for the elections - should this not be done soon, the timetables for the elections will be seriously affected and will result in a constitutional crisis.
· The leader of the opposition, Tony Leon has recently accused South Africa of selling arms to the Ivorians while professing to assist the mediation attempts. There are however no grounds for these allegations and are indeed, detracting from the mediation attempts.
· South Africa is now, through Minister of Defence Mosiuoa Lekota, actively overseeing the implementation of the agreements in addition to the mediation attempts.
· The United Nations Security Council is meeting today or tomorrow regarding Côte d'Ivoire. There is an indication that they will decide to impose sanctions against some individuals.
· South Africa remains in touch with former President Bedie and Prime Minister Outtara and the Force Nouvelles to resolve any outstanding issues.
· We are however disappointed that despite the training of close protectors, Force Nouvelles, Ministers have not been able to return to Abidjan to participate in the Interim Government.

Israeli withdrawal from Gaza

· Let me say, we cannot underestimate the historic significance of the Gaza withdrawal currently underway. This effectively ends 38 years of occupation.
· It is an unprecedented step to have Jewish settlers removed, sometimes forcefully, by the Israeli government.
· The government of Israel must however remain committed to carrying out the full programme of withdrawal.
· There must also be further consultation with the Palestinians, with control of the entry points, airspace, etc handed over to the Palestinians.
· We hope that Hamas and other militant groups will maintain their commitment to maintaining the truce.
· In addition, this withdrawal must form part of the larger roadmap and must be located within this context.

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister, I understand the sale of arms being referred to by the opposition happened about two years ago?

Answer I am not certain what the leader of the opposition is talking about. South Africa imposed a voluntary embargo, in terms of the regulations of the NCACC, since the resurgence of the conflict. The UN embargo was only imposed last year.
UN investigations into this matter are currently underway.

Question Deputy Minister, is there any scheduled meeting between President Mbeki and the Ivorian roleplayers?

Answer We are in the process of consulting with all roleplayers. The situation has become very dramatic since President Mbeki's determination. A meeting must be held with the Forces Nouvelles and the G7 sooner rather than later. The meeting also becomes very urgent since the Security Council expects are report from South Africa by 27 August 2005.

Question Deputy Minister, can you confirm that South Africa is playing a mediation role in the situation between Iran and the EU?

Answer As you know, Mr Minty is South Africa's representative to the IAEA. South Africa has also been in consultation with the three European countries, the United States and the UN. Our interaction comes within the context of our participation in the IAEA.
It is imperative the situation is resolved since the area is a very volatile one. A solution must be found.

Question Deputy Minister, can you confirm whether President Mbeki and/or Foreign Minister will attend the inauguration of the Burundian President next week.

Answer President Mbeki will attend, and is expected to be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This is indeed a momentous occasion for the Burundians and another instance of success in South Africa's commitment to brokering peace in a very difficult situation. It is widely accepted that progress of this nature would not have been achieved without South Africa's participation and commitment to the process.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
18 August 2005

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