Notes following briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahd, Imbizo Media Centre, 120 Plein Street, Cape Town Thursday 24 August 2006

Democratic Republic of Congo

· All the observers have noted that given the challenges in the DRC and despite some irregularities, there have been no signs of massive fraud and the polls were free and fair.
· There have been some complaint, these can be dealt with through the IEC.
· Before the announcement of the provisional election results were made, there were incidents of violence in Kinshasa.

· As you know President Joseph Kabila acquired 44.81% of the vote while Vice President Jean Pierre Bemba received 20.03%, Mr Antoine Gizenga acquired 13.06%. None of the Presidential candidates obtained more than 51% in the first round. Consequently the presidential second round has been scheduled for 29 October 2006. The second round of the presidential elections will run concurrently wit the provincial elections. The final results for the first round of presidential elections are expected on 30 August 2006 after the Supreme Court has received objections and verified the provisional results.

· While Ambassadors forming part of the International Committee in Support of the Transition (CIAT) were meeting with Vice President Bemba to discuss the violence, the home in which they
were meeting was attacked with heavy artillery and machine gun fire.
· Contrary to reports received, the Ambassador was not at this meeting - he was already at the airport preparing to return to South Africa for consultations. Our Deputy Head of Mission Kenny Pedro was attending the meeting.

· CIAT held urgent meetings with the Head of State and Vice-President Bemba on 21 and 22 August. During these meetings it was decided to establish a working group with as aim the normalisation of the situation as soon as possible. This group is composed of the Minister of Defence, the Chief of the Defence Force of the FARDC, the Inspector General of the National Police, the Commander of the Republican Guard, the Military Counsellor of the President, officers of the guard of Vice-President Bemba, of EUFOR, EUPOL and MONUC.

· The working group also decided on the following actions with immediate effect:
· The consigning of all FARDC troops deployed in the capital to their initial positions in view of re-establishing the statu quo ante;
· The establishment of two mixed verification teams to ensure the implementation of the consignment by all units;

· The National Congolese Police, solely responsible for public order, will resume, as from tonight its patrols in the city together with MONUC, EUFOR and EUPOL;
· Each of the parties committed themselves to scrupulously respect these measures.
· At this stage, at least 25 people are reported killed.
· South African embassy staff are safe and under the protection of the SANDF Special Force. If the situation deteriorates, evacuation will have to be considered.

· This violence has been unnecessary and could indeed have disrupted the entire process. It could also have an impact on preparations for the second round of voting. The working group that has been established will therefore have a very important role to play.

· The Security Council: They expressed their serious concern about the violent clashes between armed elements that have taken place in Kinshasa on 20 and 21 August 2006. They demanded that the Congolese political leadership exercise restraint and immediately implement the ceasefire agreed between their forces and henceforth refrain from any threats or use of force or intimidation against political opponents or their supporters. They emphasised that there can be no military solution to political issues in the DRC and urged all parties to take immediate steps to support the democratic process that is underway. They called on the Congolese leadership not to allow the progress made by the people of the DRC to be jeopardised at this stage.

They expressed appreciation for the effective operation of EUFOR DRC in support of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). They renewed their support for the International Committee in Support of the Transition (CIAT) and for MONUC and condemned any action threatening their security.

· There is some concern regarding the possibility of continued fighting. We therefore call on the European Forces and the international community to continue to support the political processes.
· The IEC has already gone on tender for the printing of the second round presidential as well as the Provincial ballots. It is envisaged that the printing of the ballots will start from 1 to 10 September with delivery by the SANDF to the 14 hubs starting 15 september till 2 October to allow internal distribution in time for the date of the 29th October election. We will be recommending to the government to send observers for the second round as we did for the first round.
· The South African government will also continue its co-operation with the government of the DRC through the Bilateral Commission that is already in place. Such co-operation entails security sector reform, including the integration and demobilisation of the armed forces and police training, training of immigration officials, the development of a population register, the registration of public servants, a census of public servants, development of an organic law for provincial and local governance and encouraging investment in the DRC.

Côte d'Ivoire

· There are continuing tensions relating to:
· Suspension of the audience foraines
· The issuance and delivery of the national citizenship certificates
· The presidential decree changing some of the magistrates who were to participate in the audience foraines
· The guidelines on the audience foraines published by the PM's office.
· Some parties are also arguing that the army must be reformed before the peace process can move forward.

· Some issues raised are technical and deal with the processes in which the Prime Minister has said are manageable.
· The PM explained that he will be implementing the audience foraines according to the guidelines issued. The issues raised about the audience foraines and national identification can be managed without stalling the peace process.
· There is also the matter that the whole country is not fully under the control of the government - the North is still governed by Forces Nouvelles.

Sudan

· As you are aware, the African Union has requested that the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) be replaced by United Nations forces. The government of Sudan has not accepted this proposal.

· The British and US have proposed a draft resolution for the Security Council. This was rejected by the Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting in Cairo on 20 August 2006. The meeting called on the Security Council to postpone the United Nations Security Council meeting to allow time for consultation and co-ordination between regional organisations on the role of the AU forces in Darfur.

· The meeting also requested that the Security Council meeting be closed to allow all participants to speak frankly.
· The Arab League Foreign Ministers have also urged Arab countries to fund the AMIS which they have agreed to do for 6 months from 1 October 2006.

Middle East

· We remain very concerned regarding the situation in the Middle East.
· The security situation in the Gaza is also deteriorating especially with the arrests of the Secretary of the Palestinian Legislative Council Dr Mahmoud Al-Ramahi and the Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Eddin Shaer.

· These arrests are added to the arrests of the eight ministers and 62 Hamas leaders including 20 legislators since 29 June 2006.
· These arrests are impacting negatively on President Abbas's efforts to form a coalition government.
· We believe the situation requires urgent attention.

Lebanon

· The South African government along with others welcomed the adoption of Resolution 1701 despite some reservations by countries.
· However, the resolution has been adopted and must now be implemented.
· Our concern is that it took five weeks of intense fighting and destruction for the Security Council to act on this situation. This is of great concern especially since this is the body charged with ensuring and protecting global peace and security.
· The United Nations Security Council has expressed concerns about Israel's violations of the resolution including the attack on Bekaa Valley at the weekend and now the violation of Lebanese air space.

· There are delays in putting together an international peace keeping force to ensure the resolution is implemented.
· The ceasefire is fragile and we face a very dangerous situation. If violence breaks out again it could lead to a regional conflict threatening international peace and security.
· It is vital we find a long term, comprehensive solution for the whole region.
· The Palestinian - Israeli situation is the main cause of the tension in the region.
· The quartet and the international community have not acted as decisively as they should have. The dangerous situation demands that they accept their responsibilities and urgently complete the Roadmap.

Iran

· As you know, Iran has now responded the proposal of the G5 + Germany. We have not seen their submission and can therefore not comment on it at this stage.
· The United Nations Security Council deadline is later this month. This deadline will be preceded by a report of the SG of the IAEA so it will become evident if the IAEA process is moving forward.
· We will study the submission by Iran when we receive it and make the position of the South African government available.

South Africa - Rwanda Joint Co-operation Committee (JCC)

· Minister Dlamini Zuma will depart for Rwanda early next week where she will co-chair the 4th session of the South Africa - Rwanda Joint Co-operation Committee in Kigali from Tuesday - Wednesday, 29-30 August 2006.
· This is a very important meeting since it impacts on our bilateral political relations.
· Our economic bilateral relations have been steadily increasing - but there is greater potential for growth.

· This meeting will also give both ministers an opportunity to discuss political developments - Rwanda is key to the situation in the DRC.
· Discussions will therefore also look at how the people of the DRC can be assisted to move forward.
· We have noted that none of the post-election violence has been orchestrated by the people of the DRC - the people have spoken and the leaders must rise to the challenge being put forward.

Belarus

· Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will host her Belarussian counterpart for bilateral political and economic discussions in Pretoria on Monday, 28 August 2006.
· Minister Dlamini Zuma will host Minister Martynov within the context of South Africa's priority to promote bilateral political, economic and trade relations with countries of the world with a view to ensuring a faster and shared economic growth in South Africa.

· Issues of the agenda of discussions between Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Martynov on Monday 28 August 2006 are expected to include, among others:
· The status of bilateral political and economic relations between the two countries;
· A brief by Minister Dlamini Zuma regarding developments in the region, including the outcomes of the SADC Summit;

· Democracy building, good governance, peacekeeping and conflict resolution in Africa including post-election Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Sudan, and Burundi;
· developments in eastern Europe;
· The Middle East conflict; and
· Other issues of global interest including United Nations Security Council reform.

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, have you as yet met with representatives of the British government regarding the anti-mercenary bill. This bill has now been delayed in Parliament - does this mean there is room for amendments?

Answer
As you may know the Minister without Portfolio and the Chairperson of the British Labour Party were in South Africa last week. We did have discussions with them on this issue.

There were also meetings with the ANC and this matter was also discussed.

Question Deputy Minister, did the South African government find their views persuasive?

Answer I am not able to respond to that suffice to say we took note of their concerns.

These discussions were confidential.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, can you give us more information on President Putin's visit to South Africa?

Answer
I will do a fuller briefing on this next week.

However, President Putin will be in South Africa at a very crucial time - the matter of Iran, the Middle East, the African challenges will all be looked at during discussions with President Mbeki.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, you mentioned that there are problems with the assembly of an international peacekeeping force for Lebanon - will South Africa be looking at assisting with this?

Answer
We have not at this stage had any discussions re: support from sub-saharan African countries. Israel has already said it will not accept troops from certain countries.

As I have already said, the situation is becoming increasingly dangerous and extremely fragile. We urge the United Nations to move more decisively in this situation. The troops that have been promised should be forthcoming and the force must be operationalised as soon as possible.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, has the South African government worked out by whom the conflict in the DRC was instigated?

Answer It is very difficult at this stage to work out by whom the conflict was instigated - its like the chicken and egg story. It is our own view that although there have been serious clashes, both sides have now committed themselves to working with the working group to normalise the situation and we must concentrate on this.

Our objective should now be to ensure the second round of elections happens as planned.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, Foreign Minister Dlamini Zuma on Tuesday this week said the offer by the G5+1 to Iran was definitely the basis for discussion and negotiation. Does the South African government consider this proposal a serious offer for negotiations?

Answer The Minister is indeed correct that this offer could be basis of serious negotiation. The debate is now: will Iran denounce its nuclear programme before negotiations can commence?

The Minister also reiterated South Africa's position: all signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty have the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes - the Iranian government consistently argues it is cultivating its technology for peaceful purposes.

Clearly what is needed is more serious dialogue on this matter.

China and Russia have made statements that they hope this situation can be resolved through negotiations. It seems that Russia and China are also not in favour of premature Security Council sanctions.

We are also awaiting the IAEA report which will be released just before the Security Council meeting to see what progress has been made in terms of the IAEA processes.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, regarding Zimbabwe - was any progress made at the SADC Summit?

Answer It was a closed meeting attended by Heads of State and their Foreign Ministers. The agenda looked at the economic situation in Zimbabwe and Swaziland. We expect to be briefed soon and depending on the nature of that briefing, we may make the information available at next week's briefing.

As you know, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa has been appointed the special envoy dealing with this situation. The United Nations Secretary General has also withdraw from the situation in favour of former President Mkapa.

There is also a SADC process which is separate to this process.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what did you mean when you said you had concerns about the situation in the Middle East?

Answer
If our view is correct, and I'm sure it is, it will not be possible to have a comprehensive solution to conflicts and improved government-to-government relations in the Middle East unless the Israel-Palestinian situation is addressed.

Unless there can be a united Palestinian government based on the Prisons document that has been unanimously adopted by all parties, and which opens up the possibility for negotiations based on the Oslo Agreement, the Arab League Plan of 2002 and UN resolutions and makes provision for an independent viable state of Palestine and Israel existing side-by-side within secure borders and improved relations between Israel and its neighbours. If the Roadmap is not operationalised, the situation will become very dire and indeed dangerous.

The special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General has said the situation is worse than it ever has been.

The international community now has the obligation to act more decisively in creating the basis for this situation to be resolved. The two-state solution must be the centre of these efforts.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Tshwane
0001

24 August 2006

 

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