Notes following Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre Union Buildings, Pretoria, Tuesday 29 August 2006

Democratic Republic of Congo

  • There are indications that the agreement that brought an end to hostilities on Tuesday 22 August 2006, is holding. The warring groups have started returning to the locations they occupied before 20 August 2006 as part of the agreement.
  • As part of the agreement reached on 22 August 2006, verification teams (military related committee) consisting of MONUC, PNC, EUFOR and representatives from the warring groups have confirmed that indeed the warring groups have returned to their original positions. The second committee of the agreement, the Mixed Commission, which is supposed to deal with political matters, has not met. This Commission is supposed to investigate what happened on 20, 21 and 22 August 2006.
  • The situation in Kinshasa is calm but tense but there has been a return to normality. Members of MONUC, PNC and EUFOR are patrolling the streets of Kinshasa to ensure the ceasefire between the two groups holds.
  • Negotiations to defuse the remaining tensions continue.
  • It is expected the Cabinet, who have not met since 29 June 2006, are expected to meet 29 or 30 August 2006. It is vital for the Cabinet to meet to enable it to give direction to the ongoing negotiations, etc.
  • Two television stations belonging to President Kabila and Vice President Bemba have been suspended for failure to adhere to balanced journalism and incidents of blatant inciting of people to acts of violence. The High Media Authority took the initiative to launch a Code of Conduct for media. The first such agreement was signed on Saturday 26 August and the second signing session, with the aim of including all media in this arrangement, will be held on Wednesday 30 August 2006.
  • In terms of Article 71 of the new Constitution, the second round of Presidential elections should be organised 15 days after the results of the first round have been officially published. It is expected that the Supreme Court will validate the provisional results on 30 August 2006. This would mean the second round should be held around the 15 September 2006 although this is logistically impossible. The Head of the IEC Rev Malumalu had initially proposed the second round of elections to be held on 29 October 2006. This was initially accepted by all parties with no objections raised regarding the unconstitutionality of this date. It seems this matter will now be raised.
  • In addition, representatives to the Joint Commission created in terms of the 22 August 2006 agreement, have not yet been nominated and the Commission has not been able to begin its work. This commission should consist of representatives of the Kabila and Bemba groups as well as MONUC. The Commission is also to have two sub-groups - one to investigate the events of 21 and 22 August and the second to deal with complaints from the two sides and to establish rules according to which the parties will act and interact until the time of the second round.
  • The IEC has decided to publish the results of the legislative elections as it becomes available, the first of which were published on 26 August 2006.
  • With the elections, we may have forgotten that security problems still exist in the DRC. There are suggestions by MONUC that in the Ituri region, rebel leaders who signed the ceasefire agreement operating in the Ituri region are recruiting fighters again. MONUC is investigating these reports - this situation, if found to be true, cannot continue as it would only serve to further destabilise the region.

Burundi

  • On 1 and 2 August 2006 opposition party leaders - former Vice President Alphonse Marie Kadege and former rebel leader Alain Mugabarabona - were arrested on the grounds of breaching national security. On 21 August 2006 former President Domitien Ndayizeye was arrested. No official explanation has been provided regarding the arrest of former President Ndayizeye.
  • The United Nations Security Council on 25 August 2006 released a statement in this regard: "The members of the Security Council expressed their serious concerns about the reports of a possible coup attempt in Burundi and the subsequent arrests of political leaders. They encouraged the Government to follow due process during its investigations surrounding these events. They called on the government and call parties in Burundi to preserve peace and national reconciliation and to promote social concord in their country. The members of the Security Council reiterated their support for the efforts of the Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi and the South Africa Facilitation to broker a peace agreement between the government of Burundi and the Paliphehutu-FNL. They took note of the progress made so far and urged both parties to conclude the discussions expeditiously."
  • As you know, the Ceasefire Agreement should have been signed today, but has been postponed until further notice - the outstanding issue is the sharing of military and government posts and logistical problems.

Côte d'Ivoire

  • Not much has changed since we spoke last week.
  • UN Mission Chief Pierre Schori said, "There is a lot of work being done, preparations being done, but the timetable set down, is not realistic."
  • This matter will be discussed at a meeting convened by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. All Ivorian and other parties will have the opportunity to present their views and a decision can be taken on how to proceed.
  • The challenge remains: President Gbagbo has said he will remain President until the elections are held, the opposition is saying that cannot be.
  • The New York meeting will have to discuss all these issues.

Sudan

  • Recently the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi warned the Security Council that the security situation in Darfur, has worsened since the last briefing to the Council in June.
  • Last week Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote to the Security Council to express alarm about the situation in Darfur. As many as 1.6 million people are now inaccessible.
  • The situation continues to deteriorate. As you know, the US and Britain have co-sponsored a resolution - which has not yet been adopted.
  • Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir has written to the Security Council urging it to be patient in resolving the conflict in Darfur and indicated that the US-UK draft for a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur was unacceptable to Khartoum.
  • The US-UK draft calls for the deployment of a 17500 strong UN force and an additional 3300 civilian police. The draft resolution also calls for an expanded logistical role for the UN.
  • Sudanese Deputy Ambassador to the UN Omar Bashir Manis has said his government remains opposed to a UN deployment: "Legally speaking the African Union has not the right to transfer the mandate to the UN. The Sudanese government is opposing the sending of troops and I cannot see how anyone can envisage sending troops to a country which is not welcoming of these troops."
  • We now find ourselves in a very delicate position. There are increasing attacks against the AU with the killing of two Rwandan soldiers lately
  • President Bashir, in a letter to the President of the Security Council wrote: "At the most recent Summitof the AU, agreement was reached with Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, that a 6-month plan would be submitted under which the Government of Sudan, in co-operation with the African Union and United Nations agencies involved, would return the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur to normal. The plan was submitted to the Secretary-General, who promised to study it an to express an opinion on it. We looked forward, through the plan and through the discussion thereon with the Security Council, to bringing together the efforts to achieve a comprehensive and just peace in Darfur on the basis that the international family, represented by the United Nations, would be a principal partner in support of the efforts to achieve peace in Darfur. The process of transferring the mandate of the African Union forces in Darfur to United Nations forces does not find acceptance among large sectors of the people of the Sudan."
  • We are beginning to see sharp differences regarding this matter - the US Ambassador to the UN would like a vote by the end of August.
  • We must be very vigilant at this time.
  • The Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting in Cairo expressed support for Sudan's position. They have however sent representatives to the Security Council meeting yesterday while the Government of Sudan did not send any representatives.

Uganda

  • Some positive news is the announcement that the Ugandan government and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) on Saturday 26 August 2006 signed an agreement to cease hostilities. This agreement becomes effective today Tuesday 29 August 2006.
  • The Head of the Ugandan delegation Interior Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said, "there is currently an unprecedented will from both sides to reach an agreement."
  • The LRA supported this view by saying the, "LRA is more committed to this process than ever before. We are committed to this process however long it may take."
  • Discussions are to begin on Thursday 31 August 2006. Issues to be agreed upon include: LRA demands that include huge cuts in the army, LRA representation in all political appointments and total autonomy of northern Uganda, wealth and power sharing as well as the economic and social development of northern Uganda.
  • The truce also calls for the safe passage of LRA forces to two sites designated as assembly points - one at Owiny-ki-Bul in Sudan's eastern Equatoria on the east side of the Nile, for those rebels in Southern Sudan and in Uganda, and another for those in the DRC at Ri-Kwangba in western Equatoria to the west of the Nile. Those fighters in Uganda who cannot move to southern Sudan are allowed to assemble in any place of worship in Uganda.
  • There has been some significant progress and we hope it continues.
  • We were asked last week whether we had received a request from the LRA to mediate. We can now confirm that we did, a week ago, receive this request. It is our view that the Facilitator Dr Machar is doing a good job and while we will closely follow the situation, we should support him in his endevours to bring this matter to conclusion.

President Putin's State Visit to Russia

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay a historic visit to South Africa Tuesday - Wednesday 5-6 September 2006. This will be the first time a Russian Head of State will visit South Africa and only the second time a Russian Head of State will visit Africa.
  • As you know, Russia is currently chair of the G-8 and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
  • Since developments in Russia, we see it is now beginning to re-emerge as a player on the world stage.
  • We believe this visit comes at a very opportune time - the Russian President, in his State of the Nation Address in May 2006 has indicated that Africa is one of Russia's foreign policy priorities.
  • Within this context, discussions will have increased relevance:
  • Off course political and economic relations will have to be discussed, especially the work that is being consolidated through the Intergovernmental Trade and Economic Committee (ITEC);
  • The visit will come a few days after Iran has responded to the Security Council regarding its nuclear weapons programme and after the response to the P5+ Germany proposal. Since we have not received a clear brief of the response by Iran to the P5 + Germany, we look forward to discussing this matter with President Putin. We would also like to receive an understanding from Russia as to how the P5 + Germany intends to deal with this matter and Russia's position on a Security Council resolution.
  • We will also seek Russia's position on the Middle East as the situation continues to be volatile and dangerous. We will also discuss the regional dynamics in the Middle East. As you know, Russia is a member of the Quartet and a co-sponsor of the Roadmap.
  • United Nations Security Council Reform - the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September is very important as it will have to evaluate how far we have come in terms of the United Nations reform. We are of the view that Russia and South Africa have many common positions on this matter. We will also discuss broadly with Russia the comprehensive reform of the United Nations including the Bretton Woods Institution.

  • Trade Relations

  • Both countries began their democratisation processes at approximately the same time.
  • In 2005, SA imports amounted to US$ 18.2 million and SA exports amounted to US$ 106.5 million. We do not believe these figures are reflective of the potential that exists between both countries.
  • President Putin will be accompanied by a large business delegation. The Russian Federation adopted a Decree in March 2003 to include South Africa in a list of developing countries that would enjoy preferential trade tariffs and duties with regard to exports to Russia. Bilateral relations also expanded significantly under the umbrella of the Intergovernmental Trade and Economic Committee (ITEC) between South Africa and the Russian Federation.
  • Solid progress in the field of Science and Technology relations, especially in terms of South Africa's policy objective of establishing South Africa as a key player in international astronomy and deep space research, also characterise the relationship.
  • Russian tourists at the high end of the market visiting South Africa totaled 8,549 in 2002, and decreased slightly for the years 2003 to 7,698 and 2004 to 7,473 respectively. The number of Russian tourists is comparable to those from Greece and Argentina. The number of South Africans visiting Russia is growing steadily.
  • The South African fruit exporting company, Capespan now ranks Russia as its single largest fruit export market for South Africa, surpassing the UK for the first time last year. In 2004 Capespan exported fruit produce worth $20 million to Russia out of a total trade of $56 million and presenting a 30% share of the export market to Russia. Apple and pear exports have registered an increase in their share of the South African deliveries to Russia. Demand for grapes has been booming in Russia. This is an area that can be further expanded.
  • We have also established a joint task team in the field of minerals and energy. South Africa and Russia have some of the world's most strategic mineral deposits.
  • The South African investment in Russia is also quite significant: The SA multinationals Anglo-American, Standard Bank, De Beers, JCI, Barlowworld, Capespan and Bateman have substantial interests in Russia. In addition, SAB/Miller has established a brewery in the Kaluga Region, which represented a US$100 million investment, and their product, Golden Barrel Beer, is highly successful in the local market. Standard Bank also has a growing presence in Russia as well as SAPPI, Protea Hotels and Sun International.
  • In March 2004, the Russian company, Norilsk Nickel bought 98.5 million common shares, or 20% of the South African gold producer Gold Fields for $1,16 billion. Norilsk Nickel is now the world's largest producer of the nickel and palladium group of metals, accounting for 18% of world nickel production, 13% of cobalt, 3% of copper, over 50% of palladium, 14% of platinum and 15% of world gold production. It should be noted that Norilsk Nickel announced in March 2006 that it plans to sell the said shares bought from Gold Fields. It would be interesting to ascertain from the reasons for this.
  • There are many other initiatives with regard to Russian companies: PetroSa, Mvelaphanda Resources, Pan African Energy Resources, Pelewan and Lazig, Sekoko Resources, Afro Resources, Mineralco, Randgold and Exploration, Phikoloso Mining and Global Eagle Strategic Empowerment Alliance Systems have all had discussions with their Russian counterparts.
  • The CEO of Renova, Mr Vekselberg, was invited in 2005 to become a member of the President's International Investment Council.
  • Russia's largest steel maker, Evraz, recently said that it would decide within less than a year whether to buy a bigger stake in Highveld Steel&Vanadium. Evraz currently has a 24,9% share in Highveld. It is possible that Evraz could buy Anglo America's Highveld share of 29,2 % in order to introduce black investors to Highveld.
  • There are tremendous opportunities for economic links to be expanded.
  • Serious expression should be given with regard to exchanges of technology in the fields of mining, mineral beneficiation, etc.
  • We are very pleased to be hosting President Putin especially since he earlier this year indicated that Africa was a foreign policy priority for Russia. It is important that relations be strengthened - this is very important also in terms of NEPAD. Russia's initiatives with regard to debt cancellation, special tariff arrangements, etc indicate their support of the African agenda.
  • Russian soldiers are also involved in UN peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Liberia and we will have an opportunity to discuss African conflict resolution and peacekeeping.

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Fraser is trying to persuade President Bashir to accept a UN peacekeeping force. What reports is South Africa receiving about this matter?

Answer Our reports are indicating that she carried a letter from President Bush to President el-Bashir but that she could not deliver it to him but to another official.

Question Deputy Minister, you have said President Gbagbo has said he will remain President until the elections. What is the view of your government on this? Will a transitional government be better?

Answer This is not a matter for us to decide - the people of Cote d'Ivoire must decide on this matter. This will be on the agenda of the September meeting convened by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

It is unlikely that President Gbagbo is going to accept that his interpretation of the Constitution is incorrect regarding his position that he remain President until elections are held, nor will the opposition parties easily relent on their positions. There are too many disparate views that must be married for a solution to emerge.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, Greg Schultz the US representative to the IAEA was in South Africa last week. I am not certain whom he met. It is clear though that he would not have been here unless there was dissatisfaction on the South African position. Is this position going to change? When will we hear it?

Answer The report from the Director-General of the IAEA Mohamed ElBaradei will be available before the UN Security Council deadline. We will therefore be able to see how Iran has managed to comply with the IAEA and whether our position in maintaining that the IAEA is best placed to deal with this matter is a correct one.

We still believe that if the matter if taken to the Security Council before all attempts to deal with it through the IAEA is exhausted, this COULD be a recipe for disaster.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, John Bolton US Ambassador to the UN has said that if the US cannot convince the Security Council to impose sanctions, then the US would assemble a coalition of forces to impose sanctions on Tehran. What is your view?

Answer We have always believed that sanctions must be imposed through the Security Council. If not, a new precedent will be set - one through which countries who do not comply with the imposition of sanctions could themselves become the victims of threats and sanctions. We do not believe that sanctions should be imposed outside of the Security Council.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, has South Africa expressed concern over the arrests of Burundian opposition leaders? Have you received an explanation in this regard?

Answer We are following the matter. Before his arrest, former President Ndayizeye met with the Presidents of Tanzania and Uganda and had also requested a meeting with President Mbeki. Before anything could be finalised he was arrested.

Former Vice President Alphonse Marie Kadege and former rebel leader Alain Mugabarabona were also arrested on the grounds of breaching national security

In response to a question of a few weeks ago regarding the alleged involvement of South African's in the attempted coup - to date our investigations have shown that no South African's have been involved in this plot.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, South African troops from Burundi are scheduled to return later this year. Are you concerned that the withdrawal will impact on the security situation?

Answer The government of Burundi stipulated a timeframe for the withdrawal of UN troops.

In line with this we had already begun scaling down deployments in terms of our bilateral arrangement with the government of Burundi - including VIP protectors. We hope that the withdrawal of these troops will not leave a vacuum in terms of security.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

29 August 2006

 

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