Notes following Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre Union Buildings, Pretoria, Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Handover of cheque from SA government to UNHRC

Comments by Deputy Minister Pahad

· I am very happy to today hand over a cheque from the South African government to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for their Return and Reintegration Programme for Sudan.
· The UNHCR is one of the UN agencies that is actively involved in conflict and post conflict situations.
· Since 2006, the UNHCR has focused its efforts on facilitating the voluntary repatriation of refugees to Southern Sudan.
· Over 12 000 Sudanese refugees have returned home through the UNHCR's organised movements and about 100 000 have returned by their own means shortly before and after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
· South Sudan, an area the size of western Europe, was gutted - its roads, schools, and hospitals destroyed and much of its human talent killed or uprooted. Since the 2005 peace agreement, the UNHCR has opened offices and actively promoted community-based projects in areas of origin. But needs are enormous.
· The Sudanese Minister of State for the Interior, Brig Aleu Ayieny Aleu, indicated that more than 500 000 refugees would wish to return to Sudan. He stated that life was difficult after 20 years in exile and the assistance provided to refugees was not enough. This was causing many repatriated refugees to end up being internally displaced (IDPs) in Juba or to make their way to Khartoum to inflate the more than 3 million IDPs in Northern Sudan.
· Given South Africa's strategic bilateral relations and extensive involvement in Sudan, as well as the fact that the Minister is the Chairperson of the AU Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development Committee on Sudan, it was decided that an amount of R1,5 million will be contributed to the UNHCR for its Return and Reintegration Programme for Sudan. South Africa's contribution to the Programme will help ensure the successful return and reintegration of Sudanese refugees during the remainder of 2006.

Comments by UNHCR Regional Representative Ebrima O Camara

· This is a very generous and timely gesture.
· This is a programme involving major operations and not one that has not faced difficulties.
· Of the overall projected budget, only 50% has been raised.
· Meanwhile in the DRC, Central African Republic, Kenya and Ethiopia, refugees have requested to be repatriated to Sudan.
· The UNHRC really appreciates this gesture and the additional funding that will assist us return some of the refugees to Sudan.

South Africa - Guinea Conakry Joint Bilateral Commission

· South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will co-chair, together with her counterpart from the Republic of Guinea, Foreign Minister Mamady Conde, the inaugural session of the South Africa - Guinea Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC) at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria scheduled from Thursday - Friday 23-24 November 2006.
· It is quite clear that many parts of Africa that were previously not open to us are becoming increasingly open to us.
· The South Africa - Guinea JCC is expected to discuss and evaluate:

· The status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries;
· Opportunities for co-operation with in the communications, transport, education, minerals and energy and trade and industry sectors; and
· Other opportunities for the consolidation of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries.

Economic Bilateral Relations

Significant opportunity exists for South Africa to promote co-operation with Guinea in the agricultural and mining sectors. There is a heavy concentration of mining activity in the Guinea. The country possesses over 30% of the world's bauxite reserves and is the second-largest bauxite producer internationally.

Other forms of co-operation that may be explored would focus on science and technology with the aim of assisting Guinea to improve its agricultural and mining methods. At least 80% of Guinea's labour work force are engaged in agriculture, mostly subsistence.

Some major companies involved in Guinea Conakry include South African mining companies such as Randgold, De Beers, Billiton and Anglo-Gold Ashanti

South African exports to Guinea

Export Values (R million)

2003 : R333 million
2004 : R282 million
2005 : R236 million

South African imports from Guinea

Import Values (R million)

2003 : R5 million
2004 : R10 million
2005 : R11 million

Deputy Minister Pahad to hold discussions with Venezuelan counterpart

· I will hold bilateral political and economic discussions with myVenezuelan counterpart Vice Foreign Minister Professor Reinaldo Bolivar at the Union Buildings on Thursday 23 November 2006.
· As you know, Venezuela has been very prominent in the headlines especially since it was discovered that it has one of the world's biggest oil reserves and that it would like to use these reserves to benefit the African agenda.
· Issues on the agenda of discussions between Deputy Minister Pahad and Vice Minister Bolivar are expected to include, among others:

· The status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries;
· Developments within Latin America - Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua - we will seek a better understanding of how developments in this region contribute to African dynamics. This will also have a bearing on a very important Summit that will be hosted in Abuja next week - the Africa - Latin America Summit.
· I will also brief my counterpart on African issues
· As you also know, after 47 votes Venezuela was not elected to the UN Security Council Non-Permanent Seat. We will therefore discuss the position that South Africa will assume on 1 January 2007 and how we can co-operate better in the forum.
· We will also discuss greater private sector involvement in the respective countries.

Africa - South America Summit

· South African President Thabo Mbeki, will attend the inaugural Africa - South America Summit in Abuja, Nigeria on Thursday 30 November 2006.
· The Summit will be preceded by a Ministerial meeting to which I will lead the South African delegation
· The Summit will provide an excellent opportunity for discussion seeing that both continents are at very crucial stages of their development.
· Accordingly, the Summit provides a good opportunity for both continents to reach a clear understanding of areas of common interest and prospects for co-operation and enhanced collaboration to foster a stronger strategic partnership on a South-South axis that would provide the context for consolidating and invigorating relations.
· South America is also making a great effort to move away from the legacy of poverty and underdevelopment.
· Delegates to the Summit will therefore discuss political, economic, social, people-to-people and cultural co-operation.
· The decision to convene this Summit was adopted at the African Union Summit held in Khartoum, Sudan in January 2006 on the Africa-Diaspora process and reiterated at the Summit in Banjul, the Gambia in July 2006.
· The agenda for discussions is expected to be very wide reaching:

· Peace and security;
· Democracy, governance, human rights and other political issues;
· Agriculture and agribusiness, water resources and the environment;
· Trade and investment between both continents including market access, investment projects and financial resources;
· The fight against poverty and underdevelopment;
· Infrastructure development;
· Energy and social materials;
· Social and cultural co-operation, tourism and sports;
· Health and education;
· Science, technology and ICT; and
· Co-operation in multilateral fora.

· We will also discuss how to expand the SADC-Mercosaur agreement to the rest of South America.
· South America is extensively engaged in the fight against poverty and underdevelopment and will have lessons to be shared with Africa.
· The issue of the diaspora is also very important - many Africans now live in South America.
· Many South American countries also have expertise in Science and Technology and can again share their experiences with Africa.
· South Africa is also in a very unique position in that it is part of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Forum that is working at consolidating South South co-operation. In this regard, we can now, through this Summit work harder at making South South co-operation a reality.

Incoming Canadian State Visit

· South African President Thabo Mbeki will host the Canadian Governor-General Michaëlle Jean on her first State Visit to South Africa in scheduled from Friday - Friday, 1-8 December 2006. While in South Africa the Governor-General will visit Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
· The Governor-General's visit to South Africa will follow visits to Algeria, Mali, Ghana and the last leg of her African tour will be a visit to Morocco.
· Issues on the agenda for discussion at the Union Buildings on Tuesday, 5 December 2006, are expected to include, among others:

· The status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries;
· The operationalisation of the institutions of the African Union and the implementation of NEPAD seeing that Canada has strongly supported that both these issues be included on the agenda of the G-8;
· Conflict resolution and peacekeeping in Africa; and
· Other issues of multilateral importance including the need to restore the centrality of multilateralism and the comprehensive reform of the United Nations and South Africa's objectives during its tenure as an elected member of the United Nations Security Council 2007-2008.

· South Africa-Canada relations have grown exponentially since President Mbeki's State Visit in 2003, during which a Declaration of Intent aimed at closer political and developmental co-operation was signed. Canada's development co-operation programme in South Africa and Africa is facilitated through the Canada International Development Agency (CIDA), and investments in South Africa and the continent are heavily tilted towards the mining sector.
· In the area of ODA, three Declarations of Intent were signed in the fields of Health, Rural Development and Good Governance. Other areas which show potential for growth include tourism, air services and agriculture.
· The Canada Fund for Africa was established as a direct response to the NEPAD, while the Canada International Development Agency (CIDA) continues to provide technical and financial support for a variety of projects in Africa aimed at social upliftment, capacity building and rural development. Canada has contributed towards peacekeeping, reconstruction and development in various conflict areas in Africa, including the Sudan, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and also in Haiti and Afghanistan.
· South Africa is Canada's leading trading partner in Africa, although there is scope to grow bilateral trade. Canadian investments in South Africa are mainly geared toward the mining sector, with 17 Canadian exploration and mining companies active in South Africa, representing capital assets of Can$1.4 billion.

· Bilateral trade is largely linked to the mining sector, with the bulk of South Africa's exports to Canada comprising mineral products, base metals, prepared foodstuffs and vegetable products. Major imports comprise of machinery and mechanical appliances, vehicles, aircraft, dairy and vegetable products, vessels and associated component and mineral products. Bilateral trade amounts to around R4 billion per annum. Base metals and mineral products constitute about 57.60% of South Africa's total exports to Canada. The Department of Trade and Industry has identified food and beverage, ICT, the film and mining industries as sectors to be earmarked for diversification of trade with Canada.

Bilateral Trade (R'000 current prices)

jjjjjjjjjjjggj2000 bbbb2001 hhh h2002 jjjjj22003 gggg2004ggggg2005

EXPORTS 1,531,845 1,527,419 1,809,541 1,596,343 2,345,792 2,238,315

IMPORTS
1,734,297 1,515,062 2,423,047 2,060,431 2,021,875 2,454,038

TRADE 202,452 12,357 -613,506 -464,088 323,917 -215,723
BALANCE

Source: Customs & Excise

· The visit is very welcome and comes at a very appropriate time where we will be able to begin preparing to the 2007 G-8 Summit.

Côte d'Ivoire

· Since the adoption of UN Resolution 1721 (2006) on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire there have been certain developments in Côte d'Ivoire - tensions are not running very high but there are differences in interpretations.
· In terms of article 25 of the UNSC Resolution 1721, the International Working Group was identified as the guarantor and impartial arbitrator of the peace process in Côte d'Ivoire.
· The IWG is therefore tasked to:
· Establish as soon as possible, in liaison with the Prime Minister, a precise timetable for the implementation of the main components of the roadmap
· Evaluate, monitor and follow up closely the progress achieved in implementing the road map on a monthly basis, report to the United Nations Security council, through the Secretary-General, on is assessment of the progress achieved and on any obstacles encountered by the Prime Minister in carrying out his mandate given to him in terms of paragraph 7 of the resolution.
· Submit, as appropriate, to all the Ivorian parties concerned and to the Council, any recommendations it deems necessary.
· As you know, South Africa is no longer the mediator but we will continue to participate in the International Working Group and will attempt to make a positive contribution where necessary.

Burundi

· Progress since the signing of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Paliphehutu-FNL remains stalled.
· The government is finalizing the immunity decree which will make it possible for the FNL to participate in the established Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM).
· The government has also agreed to release the leaders of the Paliphehutu-FNL who are listed as the party's representatives to the JVMM.
· In addition, the government has agreed to the establishment immediately of a committee that will oversee the release of all political prisoners.
· This should now make it possible for the Paliphehutu-FNL to return to Burundi.
· On the 9th November 2006 Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolog addressed the AU Peace and Security Council to seek the deployment of an AU protection force.
· The Council, at its 65th meeting adopted the following decision regarding the implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement of 7 September 2006:

· Welcomes the progress made in the peace process in Burundi, particularly the signing of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement between the Government of Burundi and the Paliphehutu-FNL of Agathon Rwasa on 7 September 2006 in Dar-es-Salaam
· Welcomes the measures already taken by the Chairperson of the Commission with a view to facilitating the implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement, particularly the designation of military officers to represent the AU in the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM), and requests him to speed up the deployment of AU military observers to work in the Joint Liaison Teams provided for by the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement
· Takes note of the provisions of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement requesting the African Union to establish a Special Task Force for the protection of the leaders and combatants of the Paliphehutu-FN: of Agathon Rwasa, as well as their movement to the assembly areas and of the request by the Government of Burundi for the AU to take the necessary measures to ensure the security of leaders of the Paliphehutu-FNL as well as the safety of the corridors through which they will pass.
· Approves the establishment of the Special Task Force as provided for in the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement. Council welcomes the willingness expressed by South Africa to contribute to the establishment of the Special Task Force and requests the Chairperson of the Commission, to submit as soon as possible, proposals on the modalities for the establishment of the Special Task Force. In the meantime Council requests the Chairperson of the Commission and the Facilitator, in consultation with the parties to take appropriate measures to consolidate the progress made with the signing of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement, including the immediate deployment by South Africa, of forces that shall assist in the implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement as part of the envisaged Special Task Force.
· Appeals to the United Nations, the European Union and other partners of the African Union to provide the necessary support and assistance for the implementation of the Agreement.

· South Africa will make troops available in this regard. A visit was undertaken by the SANDF on 23 October 2006 to determine the needs of Burundi, as well as to establish a time frame within which assistance may be rendered. During the visit Brigadier-General ME Phako was appointed to oversee the Office of the Facilitator in Burundi, assisted by additional officers to direct logistical arrangements for the arrival of the Paliphehutu-FNL in Burundi. These arrangements also include safe passage of Paliphehutu-FNL combatants to assembly points and cantonment areas. The combatants require static and mobile VIP protection and in this regard, the South African contingent of the UNOB force will be dehatted and officially resort under the AU. The AU Peace and Security Commission for Addis Ababa will finalise legal instruments required for the establishment of the AU Protection Force, in consultation with the Facilitator.
· The Facilitator has met with the governments of Burundi and Tanzania to discuss areas of cantonment and assembly points, registration of combatants and their food provision.
· The Facilitator was joined by representatives of the United Nations, African Union and other donor organizations that will assist with providing food, healthcare and securing the welfare of the combatants.

Darfur

· The United Nations Emergency Relief Co-ordinator has indicated that the number of people in need of aid to survive in Darfur has surged by hundreds of thousands to 4 million in just the past six months.
· Fighting has killed more than 200 000 and uprooted over 2 million more in the last three years.
· Those depending on humanitarian aid for survival amounts to over 3 million.
· Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs, has noted that there was enough guilt on all sides for him to not single out any one party. He called on all parties to end the hostilities and seize the opportunity offered by last week's agreement between Sudan's government, the UN and the African Union for a hybrid UN-AU operation in Darfur
· The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on 20th November 2006 reported several instances of forcible seizure and looting of UN and non-governmental organisation vehicles and equipment.
· The UN has decided to investigate these killings and we hope it will be done soonest.
· On the 10th November 2006 the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission co-chaired a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council and a number of African countries.
· The group considered three areas:

· The requirement to reenergise the peace process
· Establishing a strengthened ceasefire
· The way forward for the peacekeeping in Darfur

· The group concluded the following:

· The DPA is the only basis for this process and should not be re-negotiated
· The political process should be all-inclusive
· The AU remains the lead actor in the process of implementing the DPA

· Concerns regarding the DPA and its implementation

· The DPA is not sufficiently inclusive. A number of parties remain outside its framework
· The DPA has not been sufficiently popularised in Darfur and that has led to opposition to the Agreement amongst Darfurians.
· Fragmentation of the non-signatories has led to fighting between them
· Regional dimension of conflict has sometimes complicated the search for a solution
· The slow pace of implementation of the DPA remains a serious concern

· Proposals to address the concerns

· The various initiatives must be brought under one umbrella and the AU and UN are best-placed to lead a credible process
· The Parties, including the non-signatories in particular, must engage in the process with the necessary commitment and willingness to compromise. The international community must do all it can do to ensure this.
· The next step is for the UN and AU to call a meeting for the non-signatories

· A strengthened ceasefire

· The Ceasefire Working Group welcomes the Government of Sudan's renewed commitment to the political process.
· It is imperative that the African Union have a forum through which it can hold all parties accountable for ceasefire violations in Darfur.
· With the public declaration to cease all hostilities from all parties, the AU will be able to go one step further and facilitate direct talks between the Government of Sudan and non-signatories to ensure that there is no impunity for violence in Darfur.
· Opposition to the DPA does not give non-signatories the right to continue fighting.
· The international community stands ready to take measures against any of the parties who remain outside the political process and breach their ceasefire obligations.

· The way forward in peacekeeping

· All participants agreed on the need to enhance the AMIS capacity urgently
· UN Support to AMIS:

· The aim of the support package is to assist AMIS in the implementation of the DPA
· The Light Support Package (phase 1) is currently being implemented in full co-operation with the government of Sudan. It also agreed that the Heavy Support Package (Phase 2) will be taken forward and that the existing tri-partite (UN-AU-Government of Sudan) mechanism established would facilitate implementation of the Heavy Package for phase 2. A hybrid operation (phase 3) is also agreed in principle, pending clarification of the size of the force.

· Requirements of the peacekeeping force

· It must be logistically and financially sustainable. This support must come from the UN. The UN Should provide funding for the peacekeeping operation in Darfur, pending clarification of the force size.
· The peacekeeping force will have a predominantly African character. The troops should, as far as possible, be sourced from African countries. Backstopping and command and control structures will be provided by the UN.
· The strength of the peacekeeping force should be 17000 and 3000 police. However, the Government of Sudan representative indicated that he would need to consult with his government on this figure.

It is within this context that President Mbeki will hold discussions with Vice President of the Sudan and President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit in his capacity as the President of the GOSS for political and economic discussions at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

President Kirr will be accompanied by the Minister of Regional Co-operation Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development David Deng Athorbei, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Dr Samson Lukare Kwaje, Minister of Education Dr Michael Milli Hussein, Minister of Trade and Commerce Anthony Lino Makana, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Gier Chuang Aluong, Minister of Industry and Mining Albino Akol Akol and other senior officials.

President Mbeki's discussions with Lt Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit come within the context of South Africa's commitment to consolidate the African agenda through, among others, the promotion of post-conflict reconstruction and development initiatives. In this regard, South Africa is chair of the African Union Post Conflict and Reconstruction Committee on the Sudan.

Issues on the agenda of President's Mbeki and Kiir are expected to include, among others:

· The implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement;
· Post conflict reconstruction and development initiatives within the context of the April 2005 Oslo Pledging conference and Capacity and Institution Building Project for Southern Sudan;
· The situation in Darfur; and
· The situation with regard to the expiration of the mandate of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) on 31 December 2006.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Statement by the leader of the Mission, Mr MLULEKI GEORGE, Deputy Minister of Defence, on the Democratic Republic of Congo's 29 October 2006 2ND round presidential elections and provincial elections

PRETORIA, 21 NOVEMBER 2006

1. INTRODUCTION

It is my pleasure, as the leader of the South African Observer Mission (SAOM), to release the Mission's final statement on the 29 October 2006 Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential runoff and provincial elections. This statement covers the period from 13 October until the official announcement of the provisional presidential election results, 15 November 2006. We do note though that the final presidential results have yet to be verified by the country's Supreme Court. We further note that the capturing of the provincial election results is still to be finalised.

At the invitation of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) of the DRC, and considering the importance of these elections and South Africa's heavy involvement in the peace and transitional process in the DRC, South Africa decided to deploy a 108-member observer mission to observe the second round of the presidential runoff and provincial elections. This Mission is, by far, the largest electoral observer team ever deployed by South Africa. In these elections, the SAOM was the largest observer mission from an individual country.

The SAOM was multi-sectoral in its composition, consisting of Members of Parliament, government officials and civil society organisations. South Africa's deployment of the Observer Mission comes within the context of her principled commitment to the African renewal, peace, security and development on the continent.

The main contingent of the SAOM arrived in the DRC on 22 October 2006 while a few observers had arrived on 11 October 2006. The South African observers were deployed in all eleven provinces of the DRC with an average of three teams in each province. The deployment in all the eleven provinces provided the Mission with a general sense of what was taking place in the country and thus enabled the Mission to comment confidently on these elections. The last group of the South African observers returned to South Africa on 10 November having observed the last stages of the results capturing.

The SAOM conducted its observation according to the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) together with other internationally accepted election observation guidelines.

The Mission was weary of the security situation in the country after the violent clashes that followed the announcement of the first round presidential results. However, the agreements signed between the two presidential candidates, President Kabila and Vice-President Bemba helped to diffuse the tense situation following the August clashes.

Under very difficult conditions, logistical challenges and limited resources, the DRC has, once again, managed to organise successful elections.

The SAOM notes the official release of the provisional presidential election results showing President Joseph Kabila winning the elections by 58, 05% against Vice President Bemba's 41, 95%.

The SAOM concludes that 29 October 2006 presidential runoff and provincial elections were conducted in a climate conducive for a democratic expression of the will of the people of the DRC and therefore calls on all Congolese to accept the outcome of the elections. The Mission notes that Vice President Bemba has made a submission to the Supreme Court challenging the results. The Mission would then expect Vice President Bemba and his supporters to abide by the decision of the Supreme Court as and when such a decision is made on the results.

The SAOM notes with great appreciation the calm manner in which the ordinary Congolese seem to have welcomed the release of the provisional presidential election results. The SAOM believes that the people of Congo have suffered enough over the years and deserve peace and stability in their motherland.

2. ELECTION PROCESS

The second round of the presidential elections in the DRC was organised as per Article 71 of the country's new constitution and Article 114 of the electoral law which stipulate that should there be no clear winner with 51% of the votes on the 1st round of presidential elections, a second round should be organised between the top two presidential candidates.

The election campaign process proceeded in a relatively peaceful environment. Political parties were able to conduct their election campaigns without interference and intimidation. Political rallies were well attended and in most cases went without incident. However, the SAOM noted with regret that lives were lost during isolated incidents of violence. While this was tragic, the election campaigns, in general, proceeded peacefully.

South African observers noted that the voters' roll was made available at the polling centres for inspection. Before the Election Day, many voters took advantage of this and went to check their names on the roll. The SAOM noted that voters whose names did not appear on the roll were assisted by the CEI. Those who lost their voting cards were issued with duplicate cards.

Under very difficult conditions, logistical challenges and limited resources, the CEI staff members displayed a high degree of professionalism, independence and impartiality. The CEI remarkably managed to deliver the election material at all polling stations in this vast country, almost the size of Western Europe.

The SAOM noted the important contribution of the international community in assisting the CEI organise and prepare for these elections.

Freedom of expression remains one of the critical tools used as a yardstick to measure a country's adherence to principles of good governance. The election process in the DRC received extensive coverage in the country's media. The High Media Authority, in consultation with the CEI, was to a greater extent able to ensure that the media adhered to the code of conduct.

Civic and voter education form a critical part in creating an environment conducive to holding credible and democratic elections. According to the Electoral Law, the CEI is responsible for the implementation and coordination of voter and civic education campaigns.

The SAOM noted evidence of an effective voter education campaign conducted in a multi-faceted fashion which drew in governmental, non-governmental and political parties' resources and networks. The SAOM noted the important role played by radio in the education programmes. This helped many people who do not have access to televisions and newspapers. The Mission noted that the electorate was reasonably informed and had a good sense of where their polling stations would be located and how to vote.

The SAOM commends CEI, political parties, civil society and non-governmental organisations that conducted voter education. Civic education plays an important role in raising public awareness, confidence and legitimacy of the electoral process.

3. Election Day

On the Election Day, voting took place in all eleven provinces in about 50 000 polling stations. The majority of the voting stations opened on time with a few exceptions where they could not open due to a number of problems including heavy rains, lack of electricity and late delivery of election material. In general, voting proceeded smoothly in the presence of party agents and observers both national and international. Even where the polling stations did not open on time, the voting process, as required by the electoral law, was allowed to continue beyond the stipulated time to make up for the late start.

The SAOM did not observe any major incidents of irregularities with the voting process, except a few minor incidents. On the contrary, Election Day was marked by a general atmosphere of calm. Voters patiently stood in queues waiting to cast their votes.

The SAOM, however, noted a few incidents of violence in Bumba in the Equateur Province where two people were reported to have died following clashes between supporters of two political parties. This resulted in the suspension of voting in the area. Voting in this area was successfully conducted on 31 October 2006. The SAOM noted that appropriate security measures were put in place to ensure that voting in the affected area took place in a conducive environment. The Mission further noted that the political parties involved had called on their supporters to behave and to remain calm.

The Mission also noted with great concern an incident at Fataki in Ituri District where two CEI staff members were reported to have been killed and eight people injured. A re-vote had to be organised in the area and was conducted on 2 November. The Mission noted that action was immediately taken against those involved.

The SAOM views these incidents in a serious light and regrets the loss of life. These isolated incidents, regrettable as they were, did not have material effect on the conduct of the elections.

The Mission commends CEI for the professional and impartial manner in which it conducted and managed these elections, thereby creating space for voters to express their choices freely and without fear of intimidation. The SAOM noted that electoral officers seemed better prepared and mastered the voting and counting procedures obviously benefited from the experience of the 1st round elections.

The results compilation and verification process was remarkably transparent. Party agents representing political parties and independent candidates were present all the time. National and international observers were allowed to observe and monitor the process. Journalists were given unrestricted access to the compilation centres. Some used media-recording devices such as video cameras to record the process.

It is the view of the Mission that the unrestricted access and openness of the process at the results centres indicated a high level of transparency.

The Mission is of the view that this unrestricted access by the media, party agents and observers assisted in improving the confidence and legitimacy in the process.

The SAOM commends the South African Independent Electoral Commission for deploying its experts throughout the country to assist its DRC sister Commission to organise these historic elections.

The SAOM notes the important contribution of the international community, particularly MONUC, in assisting CEI conduct these elections.

The Mission further commends the national police (PNC) for securing the elections and promptly intervened when required.

The SAOM commends the two presidential candidates for signing a Joint Appeal and Declaration committing themselves to peaceful electoral process and accepting the results of the elections.

4. CONCLUSIONS/OBSERVATIONS

The SAOM wishes to thank CEI and the people of the DRC for the opportunity afforded to South Africa to observe these historic elections.

The SAOM observed that during these elections the people of the DRC were provided with a platform to freely elect representatives of their choice. Voting took place in a reasonably peaceful environment and electoral officers performed their tasks impartially and professionally.

The SAOM applauds the people of Congo for turning up in large numbers to democratically elect their leaders thus demonstrating their quest for peace, national independence, national unity and reconciliation, democracy, human rights and development.

The SAOM commends the candidates in the presidential runoff for observing the electoral code of conduct and encouraging their supporters and coalition partners to adhere to this code.

The SAOM is optimistic that the two candidates and their supporters will honour the recent agreements entered into in the interest of taking the country forward to sustainable peace, stability and economic development. By these agreements, the two candidates committed themselves to a peaceful electoral process and most importantly to accepting the outcome of the elections.

The SAOM further calls on the international community to continue to support the people of Congo as they embark on post election reconstruction and development.

The SAOM concludes that the DRC's presidential and provincial elections were democratic, peaceful, credible and remarkably transparent. The Mission is of the view that space was created for the people of the DRC to freely choose their representative leaders.

The SAOM thus calls on the people of Congo to accept the outcome of the elections. The Mission notes that Vice President Bemba has made a submission to the Supreme Court challenging the results. The Mission would then expect Vice President Bemba and his supporters to abide by the decision of the Supreme Court as and when such a decision is made on the results. The Mission further calls on the Congolese political leadership to work together as they begin to deal with huge challenges that face the country.

The SAOM believes that through these elections, the DRC has opened a new chapter in its history and it has been a privilege to have been part of this new beginning. South Africa, for about ten years, has had the opportunity to work in solidarity with the people of Congo to restore peace, national unity and democracy to this great country. Guided by her commitment to the African renewal, peace, security and development, South Africa will continue to travel with the people of Congo as they embark on a new road, a road to peace, economic development and prosperity.

May this great nation of Congo experience peace and prosperity.

Thank you very much.

Middle East

· This is one situation that doesn't seem to get any better.
· The Security Council considered the Arab draft resolution on 11 November 2006, however the draft was not adopted as the United States vetoed its adoption.
· The Arab Group decided to request the President of the General Assembly to reconvene the Tenth Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly to consider this issue.
· The Uniting for Peace resolution states that in the event that the UN Security Council, "because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security.
· The President of the General Assembly decided to hold the Emergency Special Session on Friday 17 November 2006. The Arab Group presented a resolution for the GA to consider the resolution based on the resolution that was vetoed in the Security Council. The Arab Group had negotiated with the European Union on the draft resolution. The Agreement was reached with the EU on the text and all EU members agreed to vote for the text.

The resolution

Expressed grave concern at the continued deterioration of the situation on the ground in the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel since 1967 during the recent period, particularly as a result of the use of force by Israel, the occupying Power, which has caused extensive loss of civilian Palestinian life and injuries including among children and women.

Deeply deploring also the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel

Emphasizing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians and condemning all attacks against civilians on both sides and stressing that the parties must respect their obligations, including by putting an end to violence.

Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately cease its military operations that endanger the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to immediately withdraw its forces from within the Gaza Strip to positions held prior to 28 June 2006.

Calls for the immediate cessation of military operations and all acts of violence, terror, provocation, incitement and destruction between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, including extrajudicial executions, bombardment against Palestinian civilian areas, air raids and firing of rockets, as was agreed in Sharm-el-Sheikh understandings of 8 February 2005

Requests the Secretary-General to establish a fact-finding mission on the attack that took place in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006 and to report thereon to the General Assembly within 30 days

Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to scrupulously abide by its obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

Calls upon the Quartet together with the international community, to take immediate steps to stabilise the situation and restart the peace process, including through the possible establishment of an international mechanism for the protection of civilian populations

The General Assembly thereafter voted on the resolution tabled by Qatar: 156 countries voted for the resolution, including all members of the EU, while 7 countries opposed it (United States, Israel, Australia, the Marshall Island, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau), 6 member states abstained (Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Tonga, Vanatu)

· France and Italy agreed on Thursday 16 November 2006 to join Spain in launching a new initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a proposal that is due to presented to the European Union leaders by Spanish Prime Minister.
· The Spanish Prime Minister said that peace in the Middle East, "by large measure means peace internationally, stability and security for the world."
· The Spanish Prime Minister indicated that there needs to be an immediate end to all violence, including terrorism, and for a new government of national unity to be formed in Palestine that is recognised by the international community.


Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, regarding Sudan - the United States has set up a deadline for Sudan to accept the UN-AU Force by January 2007, without which it will adopt plan B - what is the position on the South African government on this matter?

Answer This is a process that must be driven by a partnership. The African Union is currently supported by the UN and the EU. There is no way that UN troops will be allowed in Darfur without an agreement from the host country. If not, a very dangerous precedent will be set. However, I also do not know of any plan B.

Question Deputy Minister, what is South Africa's position with regard to the technical assistance requested from Iran in response to the IAEA yesterday?

Answer This matter must be discussed holistically. I will deal with it in my next briefing.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what is the number of South African troops in Burundi that will join the Protection Force?

Answer I am not sure of the exact number at this stage - this will be determined by the military personnel currently in Burundi who have been deployed to facilitate the establishment of this force. Clearly, if all our troops are needed, it should not in principle be a problem for them to join the Force since they would have been withdrawn from Burundi anyway.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what is your comment to the suggestion from a French judge that President Kagame stand trial for war crimes?

Answer I have not seen such a statement - however, President Kagame accuses the French of being complicant in the genocide, the French are now calling for him to face the International Criminal Court. There is a book that is now detailing the evidence that Western governments knew of the genocide yet did nothing to prevent it.

We should be wary of how we deal with such matters since the area is now being stabilized.

But I also need to have more information in this regard.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what is the position of the South African government on the weekend elections in Mauritania?

Answer It seems that everything went smoothly. And again it is evidence of a growing mood on the continent of multiparty, democratic elections.

We will make some mistakes but we are moving towards a new reality of free and fair elections.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, do you have any comments on the scheduled elections in Madagascar considering events of the weekend?

Answer We were concerned but have been informed by our Embassy that things are calm and that preparations towards elections are proceeding smoothly.

We have been asked to provide some assist - the Defence Force helicopters were dispatched today to provide assistance with the distribution of ballot papers. We will still have to decide whether to deploy an observer mission.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
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21 November 2006

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