Notes following Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media
Centre Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Tshwane, South Africa, Tuesday, 8 August
Sri Lankan Conflict
- Let me begin by condemning the
murders of 17 aid workers from a French aid group Action Contre La Faim (ACF)
-- Action Against Hunger in English -- in the northeastern town of Mutur where
they were working on rebuilding after the 2004 tsunami.
- It is really tragic
that people working to improve the quality of lives of others are so brutally
- The South African government encourages all parties to return
to the 2002 ceasefire which was being implemented for some time. We are now however
again seeing a spate of attacks in which civilians are increasingly being targeted.
only solution is a negotiated solution in the interests of Sri Lankan people.
Republic of Congo
- As you all know, the elections have now taken
- These were the first democratic elections in over four decades
since that country got independence on 30 June 1960.
- Close to 25 million
out of the targeted 28 million eligible voters, registered for these elections.
total, close to 270 parties registered for the elections. There were 33 presidential
candidates. There were 9 632 candidates for the 500-seat national assembly.
Africa decided to deploy a 108-member national observer mission to observe the
elections. The South African Observer Mission of 108 members have gained much
respect from many of those involved in these elections. Many have indicated their
satisfaction with the way in which the South African observers conducted themselves.
South African IEC at the behest of their DRC counterparts also sent about 128
IT experts and logisticians, to render support to the DRC IEC in the designated
- The main contingent of the Observer Mission returned to South
Africa on 04 August 2006, while a skeleton staff of 14 remained in Kinshasa to
observe the counting process.
- All indications are that the voting proceeded
smoothly and now the counting process is proceeding smoothly.
Thabo Mbeki has already congratulated the people of the DRC on the holding of
- The South African Observer Mission report collaborates
the reports of many of the other observer mission, ie. in view of the infrastructure
challenges, as well as the complexity of the Ballot papers for a an electorate
that has not voted for over forty years, the DRC elections were a success.
Security Council Presidential statement paid tribute to the people of the DRC.
The statement looks forward to the announcement of the results by the Independent
Electoral Commission, and appeals to all of the Congolese parties and candidates
to respect the outcome in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.
- In addition,
the Congolese people continue to face major challenges, including political and
economic reforms, national reconciliation, good governance, and reconstruction
and development. The United Nations remains deeply committed to supporting them
in their efforts to build lasting peace and democracy.
- Thus far, there
is an acceptance by all roleplayers that the processes have been free and reflect
the will of the people of the DRC.
- In the aftermath of these elections,
the DRC IEC also issued a provisional electoral timetable including the following
- 20th August - announcement of the provisional presidential
- 30th August - announcement of the final presidential
- 15th September - announcement of the final legislative
- 19th September - first meeting of the National Assembly.
are encouraged by the fact that the latest reports show great progress is being
made in the capturing of results.
- Latest indications are that at least
by Friday, 11 August the capturing of the presidential results will be completed.
were hoping that the IEC would be releasing results as they are available provincially
but this is not yet underway.
- We are also happy that some results centres
have already started capturing the legislative results. The process of capturing
of the legislative results is expected to take longer time compared to the presidential
- All indications are that things have proceeded more smoothly
- We again congratulate the Congolese people for their achievement
in this regard.
- We have also noted sporadic outbreaks of violence. The
UN troop Commander in the area has indicated that the skirmish was a misunderstanding,
and has been contained. Two rebel groups had indicated that they were prepared
to surrender arms and present themselves for integration into the FARDC, subject
to certain conditions. Rebels consciously or unconsciously do not appear to have
disrupted the elections in the region. If the peaceful situations holds, and more
rebels disarm, it would give the new government space to begin focussing on the
task of reconstruction and development.
- It is now imperative that the
DDR process must continue and the reconstruction and development must commence.
- As you know, the last International Working Group meeting
on Côte d'Ivoire took place on 20 July 2006 and was attended by Foreign
Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
- The Group acknowledged the announcement
that was made by the Prime Minister on the achievement of the Pre-regrouping of
the FDSCI and the FAFN. It was also noted that this was a pre-cursor to the DDR
process that has begun and the disarming of the militia.
- Following unrest
on the 17-19 July 2006, the Mediator thought it prudent that Minister of Defence
Mosioua Lekota and myself visit Côte d'Ivoire on 1 August 2006 to understand
from all roleplayers what their concerns were and to see how we could assist the
- We had extensive discussions with the President, Prime Minister
and the leadership of the FPI.
- We received a clear brief from our interlocutors
regarding the progress made and the challenges.
- The opposition party did
not meet with us for various reasons.
- Their have been some very positive
developments since our visit.
- The Prime Minister has produced a document
that has been made available to all roleplayers.
- The FDI has therefore
committed itself to participating in the public hearings.
- Four youth leaders
have committed themselves to not use force.
- All rural and peri-rural areas
will receive briefings on the DDR process.
- All parties are now actively
involved in the political campaigning process.
- We believe we have now
overcome one further obstacle towards the holding of free and fair elections and
will remain seized with the matter.
- The African
Union Peace and Security Council indicated that the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS)
would end in September 2006 because of lack of resources. After the intervention
of the UNSG and AU agreed to
its mandate until the end of the year, if
the necessary funds were made available.
- The Donor's Conference in July
raised US$ 220 million.
- However, all donors have insisted that the AMIS
must be converted to a UN force by 1 January 2007.
- The Secretary-General
has said that the United Nations has no hidden agenda in Sudan. He has said that
the majority of the UN forces will come from Africa and will come not as occupiers
but as helpers.
- We hope that the Secretary-General can convince the Sudanese
government of this.
- As you know, the Facilitator
was in the region last week where he held extensive discussions.
- A Summit
will be convened in Tanzania on 30 August 2006.
- There has been good progress
but there are still some outstanding problems. As you know minor outstanding issues
in this region can become major issues.. We expect that the Summit will deal with
- There have, on the whole, been some good developments in
the Great Lakes region. Should this region achieve peace and stability, it will
contribute greatly to peace and stability in Africa as a whole.
- This continues to be the greatest challenge facing humanity
at this time.
- For a number of weeks, the violence and carnage in Lebanon
and Gaza have continued unabated.
- The situation is becoming increasingly
unbearable for the people of these countries.
- Many aid agencies are predicting
dire humanitarian consequences.
- Almost all of Gaza has been destroyed.
A great humanitarian tragedy is unfolding.
- Israeli military actions in
Gaza are merely serving to create more hatred in the region.
- The Deputy
Speaker of the PNA was arrested yesterday.
- Humanitarian aid has been waiting
at the border for five days before it was finally cleared. And due to the sun
and weather most of the food aid has been spoilt.
- The crossing between
Gaza and Egypt is almost constantly closed.
- The situation in Lebanon has
been diverting attention from the situation in Palestine for the last few weeks.
We must however continue to advocate for a two-state solution to the situation
between Israel and Palestine. This remains the core issue for all other tensions
in the region.
- 85% of Lebanese infrastructure has been destroyed; a thousand
people, mainly women and children have been killed; there are 1 million internally
displaced people in Lebanon; the rockets from Hizbollah continue to be launched
at over 100 a day - Hizbollah's capacity to retaliate has not been reduced in
any way. The greatest victims are civilians, mostly children, women and the elderly.
Rights Watch, an American NGO, has indicated that massive human rights violations
are being committed by the Israelis in Lebanon and the Gaza.
- Amnesty International
has also indicated that the recent actions by Israel amount to violations of international
human rights and are war crimes.
- These comments are being made by international
human rights NGOs, not Iran or Syria.
- The United Nations Secretary General
also continues to express his concerns. While he does not debate Israel's right
to defend itself, it is the manner and intensity of that defence that is being
questioned. The Secretary-General has called for an immediate ceasefire.
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon <http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=70&Body=Palestin&Body1=>,
David Shearer, called on the Israeli Defence Forces to end its attacks on civilian
infrastructure and to cease all actions hindering the supply of humanitarian relief
supplies to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people across the country.
"Attacks close to our convoys, could very well prevent us from continuing
our humanitarian relief efforts, as many truck drivers are no longer willing to
risk their lives," Shearer said. He said that the United Nations deplores
the continuation of Israeli bombardment of civilian infrastructure in Lebanon
and also condemns the continuing rocket attacks by Hezbollah against civilian
targets in Israel.
- World peace and security is being seriously threatened
by this situation - a regional war is becoming a reality.
- Of particular
concern are the statements by almost every Arab leader - the latest being those
by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria - warning of the potentially serious situation
that threatens to engulf the region.
- The Arab streets are seething - people
are seeing their governments as being unable to respond to what is happening.
is increasingly vital that the United Nations Security Council takes immediate
- We have noted the draft resolution and comments in this regard.
Unless there are major amendments to this, this resolution will not be supported
by all the parties.
- This is not the time for ceremonial actions, this
is the time to show leadership in the interests of preserving peace and security.
Mbeki yesterday received a letter from the Prime Minister of Lebanon requesting
that South Africa lend political assistance towards their seven point plan. The
Lebanese PM also requested humanitarian assistance. After the President has studied
the letter and had consultations. We will respond to this letter. We continue
to warn that we are at a very dangerous crossroads.
- The South African
government will continue to do what it can to support the process and to ensure
the Security Council acts more decisively than it has for the last few weeks.
Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what his your position
on the holding of elections in Côte d'Ivoire by 30 October 2006?
We are all committed to working towards this deadline of 30 October 2006.
The United Nations Secretary-General has indicated that there will be a meeting
on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2006 during
which a better sense of preparations for elections will be received.
He will also have received a report from the IEC and will decide on how to proceed.
The IWG is a very active forum in Côte d'Ivoire - it consists of representatives
of the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, IMF, etc - all these
institutions will make presentations to the Secretary-General's September meeting.
Deputy Minister, is it a matter of concern for you that the members of the
opposition in Côte d'Ivoire did not meet with you?
We not know why the opposition did not meet with us. We did however receive a
message that they had been informed too late of our arrival and were therefore
not available to meet us. We understand their position.
Our mandate in
Côte d'Ivoire was not meet with all roleplayers and to understand their
concerns and how we could assist implement the processes.
We believe that
since then, the Prime Minister has dealt with some of the major issues.
The question of South African troops not being allowed into rebel areas is also
being addressed that the Mediator can receive immediate, on the ground reports
Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what is South Africa's
position on the attempted coup in Burundi and reports of South African involvement?
We are seeking more information on allegations of a coup in Burundi.
To date we have had no reports of the involvement of South African intelligence
sources in any such attempted coup.
We do not believe issues in Burundi
are very serious.
Our own view is that the process towards peace and security
cannot be halted.
Should the allegations of a coup prove to be real then
it is the mandate of the African Union Peace and Security Council to deal with
the matter. It is also their responsibility to protect the integrity of legitimately
elected governments as determined by the Constitutive Act. Africa will not tolerate
Question Deputy Minister Pahad, how do you think South
Africa can further assist Lebanon in terms of the Prime Minister's letter to President
Answer President Mbeki should have already received the letter
from the Prime Minister.
The Lebanese are requesting support from their
7 point programme which which we are doing anyway.
The President will however
look at the letter and after consultations determine how we can make a greater
contribution to end the violence and create contitions towards a long term solution.
Deputy Minister Pahad, do you have a message for the people of Cuba following
the illness of President Castro?
Answer Off course South Africa
is concerned about the health of President Castro - I'm sure we must have sent
a letter wishing him a speedy recovery.
We are preparing to visit Cuba
for the Non Aligned Movement Summit which will be held in September 2006.
Deputy Minister Pahad, the British High Commission has made representation to
the Portfolio Committee that the 700 South Africans in the British Forces be exempt
from the conditions of the Foreign Military Assistance Act. Has the British government
been in touch with you on this matter?
Answer I have not been fully
briefed regarding the British High Commissioner's presentation to the Portfolio
We will seek to meet the British High Commissioner to discuss
this matter further..
The Foreign Military Assistance Act has many more
wide ranging consequences and it is finally a decision that Cabinet must take
after the public discussions and the views of the legislature are taken into consideration.
Deputy Minister Pahad, are there any South Africans in the Israeli Defence
Force? And is President Mbeki also in contact with President Bush regarding the
Israeli-Lebanon situation or is the South African government interacting only
with United Nations structures?
Answer I am not aware of any South
Africans in the Israeli Defence Forces. If anyone is in possession of such information
we request that it be furnished to the relevant agencies for investigation and
We are however very anxious to ensure that South African's,
in any guise, are not involved in conflicts beyond our borders. Any such activities
are very dangerous since South Africans may give others the pretext to act against
We are also in touch with all Embassies in South Africa to get their
assessment of the situation and to raise our concerns. We are also in touch with
governments, at various levels, on this matter.
Question Deputy Minister
Pahad, do you agree with President Gbagbo that he will remain President until
whichever time elections are held?
Answer I am not sure when he
is reported to have said this. I am sure many positions in this regard will be
on the table.
We do however believe that in the event elections are delayed,
it will not be a very long delay. We will off course all be happy if elections
take place on 30 October as originally planned. If the September meeting proposes
an extension of the election date, it will have to be discussed how the country
will be governed after the 30 Oct deadline.
Question Deputy Minister
Pahad, Uganda's Lords Resistance Army (LRA) have declared an immediate cessation
of hostilities. What is your position on this matter?
off course, welcome this development. We believe that peace between the government
and LRA will also impact positively on the situation in Sudan, the DRC and Burundi.
This will indeed be positive for the region in particular and Africa as a whole.
We do not have a direct involvement in the situation but will be briefed through
our participation in the African Union and our membership of the Peace and Security
Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what is South Africa's reservation
about the current UN resolution?
Answer We have not been fully privy,
until very late, to the draft resolution. This matter was first handled by France
and the United States. It was then sent to the other P5 members for their comments.
We are not on the ground in Lebanon to look at the strengths and weaknesses of
We have however, always called for an immediate ceasefire
and for a comprehensive long term solution to the situation.
We have always
maintained that the Israeli-Palestinian situation remains the basis for all other
conflict in the region.
There is also the problem with the interpretation
of the term "Defensive Action" - what is this, how can it be applied,
There is also the implementation of Resolution 1559 and the implementation
of a permanent secure border between Israel and Lebanon.
This must not
be perceived as a one-sided resolution. Unless it is accepted by all parties,
the war will continue.
We hope that common sense will prevail. The main
protagonists must be satisfied.
The Lebanese government has volunteered
15000 troops to go into the region to act as a buffer until the UN troops comes
There must be the political will for a two state solution to be realised
and we must now accept that the Roadmap has failed hopelessly.
situation must be removed from the Middle East body politik by finding solutions
based on the various UN resolutions.
The Arab streets are seething - unless
there is a speedy solution, there will be a revolt that cannot be contained. Hatred
is growing very strongly. The international community must act decisively before
we are faced with a catastrophic and dangerous situation.
Issued by Department
of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152