Notes following Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Imbizo Media Centre, 120 Plein Street, Cape Town, Thursday 26 October 2006

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

  • On 21 October 2006, the 103-member South African Observer Mission departed for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the second round of presidential elections which will be held on 29 October 2006. ? The SOAM, comprised of Members of Parliament, government officials, and members of civil society.

Preparations for Elections

  • Generally, technical and logistical preparations for the elections are proceeding well. Telecommunications equipment has been procured from South Africa. The DRC's IEC has been conducting voter education through various television stations where they have received access. NGOs have also conducted voter education. Training of staff is ongoing and materials are mostly in place. The voter's roll will be published by 27 October. Problems with names missing from the voter's roll during the first round of elections have been addressed. A further problem of the non-payment of electoral staff remains, although the IEC has indicated that the UN has paid staff according to lists that it had received. Transport is a key weak link in the chain of operations, particularly in the interior.

Political Situation

  • The Political atmosphere in Congo is characterised by high expectations. The electoral campaign, with combines with provincial elections, is being conducted in line with the electoral code of conduct for political parties.

Security Situation

  • The Security Situation is calm and joint patrolling in the main cities such as Kinshasa has reduced the possibilities of politically motivated disturbances. South African soldiers serving with MONUC have been deployed to Kinshasa.

  • The eastern part also remains calm but volatile. In North Kivu the presence of former brigades of Congolese army supporting renegade General Nkunda and their resistance to the deployment of integrated brigades remains a serious concern.

  • Another area of concern is the insecurities caused by the intervention of foreign armed forces in North Kivu. In Ituri, militia groups continue to harass the local population. The army is still faced with a number of challenges which include:

    • Lack of transport, communication and related infrastructure
    • Irregular salaries of the integrated soldiers
    • Lack of social amenities and services at the integration centres

The pledges of the Presidential Candidates has also helped to stabilise the situation. They have expressed their commitment to a peaceful campaign. In this regard the two presidential candidates agreed to:

  • Demilitarise Kinshasa
  • Refrain from seditious language
  • Accept the election results
  • Establishes a commission of inquiry to investigate the source of the violence in August and propose a strategy for disarmament

  • MONUC forces continue to maintain peace and security across the country. These efforts are complemented by the EUROFORCE largely stationed in Kinshasa.

We call on the Presidential candidates to unconditionally accept the results.

SADC Decisions

  1. Establish a Defence and Security Liaison office in Kinshasa to be able to co-ordinate SADC efforts.

  2. SADC Secretariat to develop a Plan for the post-electoral peace building in the DRC. This plan may include inter alia; Demining, collection and control of fire arms, Conversion of former military facilities into other socio-economic use, organisation and capacity building of defence and security policy institutions and confidence building activities involving youth and women. The SADC peace building programme will also address the issue of foreign armed groups.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

  • Summit of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, at its 64th meeting held on 17 October 2006:

    • Reiterated its concern over the persistence of the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire and the dangers it poses to the unity of that country and the cohesion of its social fabric, as well as to peace and security in the region;

    • Reaffirms the commitment of the African Union to the respect of the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and the unity of Côte d'Ivoire, as well as the imperative need for the speedy reunification of Côte d'Ivoire. The council also reaffirms the commitment of the African Union to the peaceful settlement of disputes and its total rejection of the use of force, as well as of any unconstitutional change of government.

  • Endorses the observation of the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Abuja on 6 October 2006, on the expiration of the transitional period of 12 months and on the impossibility of organizing presidential elections on the scheduled date

  • Decides that a new transition period not exceeding 12 months shall be established commencing from 1st November 2006 to complete the following tasks:

    • Identification and registration of voters;
    • DDR and restructuring of the Defence and Security Forces;
    • Dismantling of the militias;
    • Restoration of State authority throughout the territory of Côte d'Ivoire; and
    • The technical preparation for elections.

  • During this transition period:

    • President Gbagbo shall remain Head of State until the end of the transition period;
    • The Prime Minister of the transition, Charles Konan Banny shall have all the necessary powers and means to implement the following activities:

      • The disarmament programme;
      • The identification process;
      • The dismantling of the militias;
      • The restoration of State Authority throughout the country;
      • Electoral issues; and
      • The redeployment of the administration and public services throughout the territory of Côte d'Ivoire

    • The Prime Minister shall also have the necessary authority over all the integrated Ivorian defence and security forces to enable him to carry out the tasks assigned to him

    • The Minister shall be accountable to the Prime Minister, who shall have full authority over his cabinet

    • The Council of Ministers may, in all matters, take decisions by ordinances or decrees. In particular the Council of Ministers may adopt, by ordinance, appropriate practical measures within the spirit of the law to speed up the process of issuing duplicates of birth certificates and certificates of nationality.

    • Pays tribute to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa for the untiring efforts he has deployed in the service of peace and reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire, as well as the numerous initiatives he has taken to move forward the peace process, in his capacity as AU mediator, driven by his deep commitment to finding African solution to African problems;

  • Decides to accept the request of President Thabo Mbeki for South Africa to hand over the role of Mediation, following its election the United Nations Security Council. The Council reaffirms that the African Union will continue to call upon the leadership of President Mbeki in the resolution of the Ivorian crisis.

  • Decides to entrust the pursuit of the mediation to be continued by President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo in his capacity as Chair of the AU, in liaison with the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union and the Executive Secretariat of ECOWAS and, as the need may arise in liaison with any other African leader willing to make a contribution to the search for peace in Côte d'Ivoire

  • Reaffirms the centrality of DDR to the peace process and calls for its immediate completion as well as for the completion of the disarmament and dismantling of the militias, which should run concurrently with identification of citizens.

  • The High Representative for Elections to play a greater role in the resolution of disputes linked to the electoral process or issues arising out of the procedure and processes to be adopted to ensure free, transparent, open and fair elections.

  • Calls on the United Nations Security Council to take appropriate measures including sanctions, against individuals or groups whose conduct either by commission or omission, impedes or disrupts the implementation of the peace process and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

  • Urges the United Nations to take appropriate measures with a view to the effective implementation of the arms embargo on Côte d'Ivoire and to ensure that those who violate the embargo are severely punished.

  • Decides to submit this decision to the United Nations Security Council

BURUNDI

  • Negotiations are currently stalled following demands by the Paliphehutu-FNL that amnesty be decreed into law and endorsed by Parliament.

  • The Facilitator and his team are currently looking into this.

  • The Government of Burundi has proclaimed on this issue but the Paliphehutu-FNL wants this to be made into law.

  • Negotiations are ongoing in this regard.

  • However, the Facilitator and his team have now set up offices in Burundi to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement.

  • The Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM) has been launched.

  • It is expected that the ceasefire will be fully implemented following the resolution of the issue around the amnesty.

The Paliphehutu-FNL has also made a demand around the release of political prisoners - however this matter will be fully dealt with by the JVMM

SADC EXTRA-ORDINARY SUMMIT TO CONSIDER REGIONAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL INTEGRATION

  • Regional integration is absolutely vital to successfully tackle the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment.

  • The Extra-Ordinary Summit held on 23 October 2006 to review the status of regional economic integration and to propose measures to accelerate the implementation of the SADC economic integration agenda.

  • Summit concluded that the SADC Free Trade Area programme will be launched as planned by 2008. However Summit noted that SADC's trade patterns consist mainly of commodities and that there is need to diversify the SADC economies and increase intra-regional trade and growth. Also the issue of the FTA must be dealt with in the context of a developmental agenda and we must avoid any hasty measures and ensure that the ground is properly prepared .

  • Summit also reaffirmed its commitment to the establishment of a SADC Customs Union by 2010 and directed the Ministerial Task Force to undertake and finalise a study, which will evaluate an appropriate model for a SADC Customs Union.

  • Summit agreed to mobilise the region's own resources and agreed that a Development Fund be established for infrastructure and food security.

  • Summit directed that the Secretariat resources be in creased and aligned with the SADC priority programmes.

AFRICAN UNION GOVERNMENT

  • Summit noted that the effective establishment of the African Union Government can only occur when the African continent attains higher levels of both economic and political integration.

  • The report on the African Union government will now be submitted to the SADC Council of Ministers to consider prior to the Extra Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU on 17-18 November 2006 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

  • Summit expressed concern at the lack of progress in the Doha Development Agenda.

SECURITY COUNCIL

  • On 16 October 2006 the General Assembly of the United Nations elected South Africa to serve as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term starting on 1 January 2007.

  • South Africa will join the Republic of Congo and Ghana as the third African non-permanent member of the Security Council.

  • South Africa received the support of 186 countries, with no country voting against or abstaining.

South Africa is greatly privileged and honoured by its election.

Minister Zuma in a statement said

"We declare our readiness and preparedness to serve the peoples of Africa, the South and the world in this capacity. South Africa, commits itself thus, fully cognisant of the challenges that will certainly arise from the responsibilities that will attend to the membership of the UN Security Council as an instrument of our collective peace and security.

South Africa will strive in conjunction with the African Union, to create synergies between the work of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council with a view to the prevention of outbreaks of violence and conflict in the continent of Africa.

South Africa shall also continue to work with all members of the United Nations General Assembly in pursuit of the comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including the reform and expansion of the United Nations Security Council."

We will have to build up the necessary capacity both in Pretoria and New York.

  • The UNSC occupies an important and unique place in this multilateral system with its tasks defined in the UN Charter.

The Charter says: "In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility, the Security Council acts on their behalf. In discharging these duties the Security Council shall act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations"

  • Currently for instance, the African issues of which the UNSC remains seized include Western Sahara, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia and Eritrea with regard to their border dispute.

  • Other important issues:

    • Palestine and Israel
    • Lebanon and Israel
    • Iraq
    • Iran
    • The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea
    • Haiti
    • Cyprus

As we take our seat on the Security Council we are acutely conscious

  • Of fundamental importance to the tasks that face the UNSC is the need to respect the Principles reflected in the Preamble of the UN Charter. This Preamble says:

"We the peoples of the United Nations determined:

  • To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind;

  • To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

  • To establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained; and

  • To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom."

These are fundamental elements that drives our foreign policy perspectives and will guide our actions in the Security Council.

President Mbeki said:

  • "The responsibility facing our government as a member of the UNSC is a national task to which we must respond in unity, inspired in the spirit of ubuntu, that with regard to all humanity, we are truly one another's brothers and sisters keepers.

    A shared and new patriotism must surely tell all of us, regardless of any political or other affiliation and identity, that when we end our privileged tour of duty as a member of the 15-member UNSC on 31 December 2008 we will be immensely honoured to hear all humanity saying - that you South Africa for everything you did to strive to make ours a better and safer world for all. "

MIDDLE EAST

The situation remains volatile and dangerous.

  • Alvaro de Soto, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process on the 19 October 2006 told the Security Council that "a deadly crisis continues in Gaza", and that it was urgent to help restart dialogue

  • "The virtual siege of Gaza is having a devastating effect on the lives of ordinary Palestinians, stifling hope and fomenting despair, while the continued dangerous launching of rockets at Israeli population centres such as Sderot is a source of deep distress for ordinary Israelis."

  • He said the combination of near total closure of the Gaza Strip, non-payment of public sector salaries, absence of basic law and order, declining service delivery, continued military strikes by air and land and the lack of any apparent political horizon was a truly explosive one.

Recent Military Offensive in Gaza

Some Comments

  • The urgency of resumption of negotiations towards the implementation of the Quartet's Roadmap. Peace will not be achieved through firing of rockets, or by separation walls or unilateral attempts to prejudge the final status issue.

  • With Palestinian Security forces, medical workers and others on strike, the European Commission's efforts to mitigate the worst effects of the crisis by renewing the Temporary International Mechanism was welcomed, but it could not be sustained, nor substitute for the Palestinian Authority.

  • Call on the international community to end collective sanctions.

  • Israel's continued withholding of over half a billion dollars of Palestinian tax and customs revenues was the biggest single direct cause of the Palestinian financial crisis.

  • Need to implement the Agreement on Movement and Access

UNITED NATIONS OFFICE FOR THE CO-ORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS [30 SEPTEMBER 2006]

Main findings

No significant improvement in Palestinian movement has been observed. Closures continue to carve up the West Bank leading to isolation of communities, in particular the cities of Nablus, Jerusalem as well as the Jordan Valley.

The fragmentation of the West Bank has been reinforced during the last three months.

The most evident trends including the following:

  • The movement of northern governorates and Nablus residents to the rest of the West Bank continues to be restricted heavily;
  • Palestinian vehicle traffic have been further excluded from main road arteries used by Israeli traffic by more strategic road blocks and checkpoints leading on to these routes;
  • The Jordan Valley has been further isolated with the latest closure and security policies of the IDF;
  • Barrier construction increases the amount of agricultural land left in "closed areas" between the Barrier and the Green Line.

As of 20 Sept 2006, the West Bank closure system comprises 528 checkpoints and physical obstacles placed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on roads to control and restrict Palestinian movement - representing an increase of almost 2% on the 518 obstacles reported in the June 2006 update. This latest count represents an 11% increase in the number of physical obstacles erected by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) since the beginning of 2006 and almost 40% since Aug 2005.

  • "The virtual siege of Gaza is also having a devastating effect on the lives of ordinary Palestinians, stifling hope and fomenting despair.

Inter Palestinian violence is a matter of serious concern.

National unity is the only way to stem the slide into anarchy and civil war. The dangerous situation demands a comprehensive regional solution. The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 is such a plan.

NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION

  • South Africa recognises and supports the legitimate right of all States to utilise the atom for peaceful purposes. At the same time, we are of the view that the ownership of the capability that could also be utilised to develop nuclear weapons places a special responsibility on the States concerned to build confidence with the international community that would remove any concerns about nuclear weapon proliferation. South Africa believes that such States need to ensure that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is able to verify that these capabilities are being used for peaceful purposes only, including through the mechanisms available under the Additional Protocol for strengthened safeguards.

  • In our view, the Additional Protocol remains an important instrument to build confidence and provide assurances regarding the continued peaceful application of nuclear energy.

  • South Africa strongly supports universal adherence to IAEA Safeguards Agreements

  • The illicit transfer of nuclear and nuclear related dual-use technology and materials that could be used in the development of weapons of mass destruction remains of serious concern to the international community and poses a serious threat to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

SOUTH AFRICA ELECTED CHAIRPERSON OF THE NUCLEAR SUPPLIERS GROUP

  • South Africa was on Thursday 12 October 2006 unanimously confirmed as the next Chairperson of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, for the period 2007-2008 at the Consultative meeting of the Group held in Vienna, Austria. SA is represented at the meeting by Ambassador Abdul Minty.

  • South Africa welcomes the confidence placed in it by the full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group as a recognition of the country's non-proliferation and disarmament credentials.

  • The Nuclear Suppliers Group was established in 1975 and is composed of 45 countries across the world considered as suppliers of nuclear items. The objectives of the Nuclear Suppliers Group are to ensure that nuclear transfers of items for peaceful purposes are not diverted to unsafe and unguarded nuclear activities or nuclear weapons.

  • The Nuclear Suppliers Group, currently chaired by Brazil, inevitably deals with the dual- use items that can be used for either peaceful or non-peaceful purposes.

  • Consequent to Thursday's decision, the next Annual Plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group will be held in South Africa in the year 2007.

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, I find the situation of the deportation of Mr Habib from the United States very disturbing - can you comment?

Answer We have now received a letter from the Human Sciences Research Council and have requested an explanation from the United States. This incident is very worrying - we have seen an increase in the last few years of South Africans being deported from the United States and other countries without explanation. Mr Habib did have a 10 year visa and should have been allowed to attend the meetings.

We have been told that this may have been a mistake - but we cannot work on mistakes - this has cost the Council a lot of money and time.

We call on the American government to pay greater attention to their lists.

We believe the situation will increasingly become one where South Africans will be reluctant to travel if they are subject to mistakes of computer glitches.

Question Deputy Minister, was the situation of Zimbabwe addressed at the Extraordinary SADC Summit?

Answer This matter was not addressed - we looked at the matter of integration in a holistic sense. Much time was spent looking at SADC's uneven growth patterns and South Africa's prominence in the region. We also discussed the need for inter-regional trade to increase.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, you mentioned the Facilitator had set up an office in Burundi - for how long will this be operational and who will staff it? What role do you see for South Africa in a post-election DRC and how will South Africa support SADC initiatives?

Answer The office of the Facilitator was set up a few days ago and will be operational for as long as the Facilitation is required. This office is in addition to that of our mission.

As you know, in the DRC, we have officers as part of the MONUC forces, experts outside the UN and many other personnel. Several ministries are also assisting the government and people of DRC with their infrastructure, helping with registration, home affairs, capacity building.

SADC will attempt to co-ordinate post-conflict initiatives in the DRC. The matter will have to be thoroughly discussed since we want to prevent the duplication of activities. We have limited resources that must be used to maximum benefit.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

26 October 2006

 

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