Notes following Briefing by Deputy Minsiter Aziz Pahad, Media Centre Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Introduction

It is now three weeks since South Africa has taken its seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

As you are aware, it has already been a very hectic and challenging three weeks.
As we seek to carry out our mandate, we will be guided by the ANC, NEC 8 January 2007 statement, inter alia,

"Our fortunes as a nation are intimately interconnected with the fortunes of our neighbours, our continent and indeed all of humanity. It is therefore on this basis both of moral responsibility and collective self-interest that we continue to be actively engaged in the effort to build a better Africa and world.

SA needs to use this important position in the Security Council to advance the cause of Africa in international affairs, in particular, and confirm that Africans occupy the front ranks in the world struggle for peace, security and stability.

Our foreign policy should reflect the interests of the continent of Africa."

  • As we seek to achieve these objectives, we are conscious of the enormity of the challenges.
  • The new UN Secretary-General in his first statement on January 8th statement has given a clear indication of key issues by which we will be confronted.
  • He said:
    • Need to view conflict management in a holistic manner - prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building.
    • Need to address conflict in a comprehensive manner with development and human rights issues being accorded their proper priority
    • The UN has an exceptionally challenging agenda ahead of it in 2007. We face an unprecedented demand for peacekeeping, as well as a range of growing demands for preventative diplomacy, good offices, peace-building and efforts in conflict management. This Council, and the Organisation as a whole, are going through one of the busiest periods in our history, with a record number of peace operations, resolutions and reports over the past few years.
    • The Department of Peacekeeping Operations has expanded to cover 18 missions, with a historic high of 100 000 personnel I the field and climbing. The total number of peace operations in which the UN is engaged has risen to around 30
    • Some of our most acute and persistent challenges are in Africa. One of my top priorities will be to step up efforts to address the crisis in Darfur. I will co-ordinate closely with leaders in Africa and beyond
    • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we must ensure that recent positive developments enabled by our largest peacekeeping operation are consolidated.
    • Inject new momentum into our search for peace and stability in the Middle East - Israel and Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq
    • Work for a conclusion to the uncertainty over Kosovo
    • Range of issues identified cannot be resolved by any one country - issues which present threats to the security of people around the world and to the entire international community
    • The threats we face in this century are multi-faceted and inter-connected
    • Three pillars of the UN:

      • Security
      • Development
      • Human rights

All underpinned by the rule of law

  • Strengthening the disarmament and non-proliferation regimes - addressing the special challenges posed by the cases of Iran and Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea
  • We need to look at the organisational structures of all departments and offices related to peace and security

These are some of the key issues we will deal with in our briefings.

Today I will concentrate on African issues:

SOMALIA

UN-Somalia (10 January 2007)

  • Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which holds this month's United Nations Security Council presidency, said members regarded the situation in Somalia - which has been beset by fighting and widespread displacement in the past month - as one of its top priorities
  • Mr Churkin said the Council's 15 members agreed that inclusive political dialogue among Somalia's various political forces is necessary to end the deadly clashes and alleviate the humanitarian situation in one of Africa's most impoverished nations
  • In December the Council unanimously adopted a resolution authorising the creation of an African protection and training mission to help protect Somalia's transitional federal institutions
  • To be known as IGASOM, the new force is to be set up by the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and will have an initial mandate of 6 months. No countries bordering Somalia will be able to deploy troops
  • UN will send a humanitarian assessment mission to Somalia's border area with Kenya where thousands of internally displaced persons have gathered to escape fighting between the Transitional Federal Government and supporters of the Union of Islamic Courts - the assessment team will examine how to re-start humanitarian deliveries into Somalia and how to handle the large-scale population movements that have followed the intense fighting in recent weeks as the Government, backed by Ethiopian troops, has reclaimed the capital Mogadishu

  • As the year 2007 began, Somalia put itself firmly at the top of the African Agenda. In 2007 Somalia needs the support of the rest of the African Continent.

For 15 years it has been victim to a protracted internal conflict that resulted in the collapse of the state, the death of an estimated one million Somalis, the emigration of thousands as refugees, and the impoverishment of millions.

Somalia turned into a source of regional instability.

After years of instability and negotiations the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia was established in Kenya in October 2004.

This optimism dissipated over the next year as clan, tribal and other divisions prevented the TFG from making any progress on state building tasks

In June 2006, after months of fighting between Mogadishu's US-backed militia leaders and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), the UIC took control of the capital city.

  • Ethiopian and TFG forces retook Mogadishu on 28 December 2006, dissolving the tenuous order brought to the city by UIC control, and continued their advance to include the UIC's southern stronghold of Kismaayo.
  • Somalia's Interim Government recognised by the AU and the rest of the world, born in 2004, as a result of the Ethiopian intervention, this government is now operating from Mogadishu.
  • As the military conflict continued after the ousting of the UIC, the US decided to launch air strikes against the retreating UIC personnel. A spokesman for the US Embassy said the attacks were aimed at terrorists who may have struck the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. "We are going to continue to work in close co-operation with our allies in the region, who all understand the importance of pursuing terrorist activities and denying them safe havens," he said. "Due to rapidly developing events in Somalia, US Central Command has tasked USS Dwight D Eisenhower to join USS Bunker Hill, USS Anzio and USS Ashland to support ongoing maritime security operations off the coast of Somalia," said Navy Lt Cmdr Charlie Brown, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet in Bahrain. The majority of the world, including the AU and the UN, have expressed concern at this action, correctly asserting that this will not help to resolve the crisis in Somalia and would add oil to the fires that are burning in Africa and the Middle East.
  • We believe that a political solution is absolutely vital and it is therefore important that the Islamic Courts and the interim government settle their differences through the negotiating table. The international community must assist the Somalis to negotiate the future management of Somalia, to restore peace and security, and to put the interests of Somalia above the interests of clans or political parties or ideologies."

  • The situation is volatile: correspondents have reported that explosions could be heard in many areas of the city overnight.
  • The violence comes as an AU delegation is in the city to discuss the deployment of peacekeepers. The AU officials arrived in Somalia on Sunday 14 January 2007 to finalise plans for a peacekeeping force as government troops searched for weapons in the latest push to bring back order after weeks of war
  • Transitional Government spokesperson Abduraman Dinari said, "They came to meet with government officials in order to discuss how the African Union troops could be deployed … they will visit several places in the country … and they'll meet with senior government security officials. We hope the African troops will be deployed as soon as possible."
  • The UN Secretary-General has also called for the speedy deployment of African peacekeepers in the country, and welcomed Ethiopia's statement that it intends to withdraw its forces "expeditiously."
  • Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, said he told United Nations Secretary-General on Monday that a UN peacekeeping force may be needed to guarantee security and stability in Somalia, which has not had a functioning government in 15 years
  • Solana said Ugandan forces may be the first deployed to replace Ethiopian troops, but he said the African Union is already carrying a "very heavy" peacekeeping burden in Sudan and elsewhere, and the UN may have to step in instead of the AU and take over the next phase.
  • Over the weekend the regional body IGAD sent envoys to eight African countries, asking them to contribute to a proposed 8000 strong peacekeeping force - Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia, Tunisia, Algeria and South Africa. A special envoy from Ethiopia has also visited South Africa for discussions regarding an AU peacekeeping force.
  • So far, only Uganda has offered troops - 1500 - although it needs parliamentary approval
  • President Mbeki: "Yesterday (Sunday 14 January 2007) again I met with the foreign minister of Kenya who had been sent by the East Africa region. They are requesting we should assist with the deployment of troops in Somalia. I did say to the minister we will look at the matter this week… it's partly a matter of capacity because we've got people deployed in the DRC and we've got people deployed in Burundi, we've got people deployed in Sudan."

SUDAN

  • On 22 December 2006 in a letter to the Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, President El-Bashir informed the UN that Sudan supported the three-phase plan, agreed to at Summits in Addis Ababa and Abuja in November, which culminates in the hybrid force replacing the existing and under-staffed AU monitoring mission known as AMIS. The new force is expected to have about 17000 troops and 3000 police officers.
  • Under the first phase of the agreement, the UN is providing a US$21 million "light support package" to AMIS, which includes the provision of equipment as well as military advisers, police officers and civilian staff from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) - a separate peacekeeping operation mandated to oversee a peace pact ending the 21 year war in the country's north.
  • UNMIS handed over the first batch of equipment and supplies to AMIS on Thursday 11 January 2007 with the remainder expected to be delivered in the coming weeks. The first batch included generators, tents, cookers, sleeping bags, mosquito nets, ground positioning systems (GPS) and night-vision goggles. Some 17 military advisors and 19 police officers are already in Darfur.
  • The details of the second "heavy support" phase, which includes the provision of staff and equipment are still being finalised.

  • The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on Sunday 14 January 2007 announced plans to deploy a second group of 10 military staff officers to Darfur to support the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS)
  • The new batch, set to be deployed on Monday 15 January 2007, comes in addition to 17 UN military staff officers and 19 UN police advisers who are already in Darfur as part of a light support package for the thinly stretched AMIS, which has been struggling to monitor the vast region - roughly the size of France - where over 200 000 people have been killed since 2003 and more than ten times that amount displaced by conflict
  • Under the US$21 million light support package, UNMIS is providing:
  • 105 military staff officers
  • 33 police advisers
  • 48 civilian staff
  • Equipment and supplies to the African peacekeepers
  • The next meeting of the Tripartite Mechanism (AMIS, UNMIS, the Government of Sudan) will take place on 24 January 2007.
  • UNSG Ban Ki-Moon on Thursday 11 January 2007 said the Sudanese government remains committed to the deployment of a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.
  • Special Envoy Jan Eliasson, former Swedish Foreign Minister, told reports after his meeting with Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir that Sudanese officials, including the President had agreed with him that the conflict could only have a political solution and not a military one.

BURUNDI

  • The central objective of the Burundi Peace Process was to bring the Palipehutu-FNL, the last remaining rebel movement that was not part of the Arusha Agreement Accord of 2000 on board. The FNL leader Mr Agathon Rwasa informed the Government of Burundi in early 2006 that his movement was ready to hold peace negotiations to allow them to be included in the new Government.
  • The Government of Burundi requested South Africa to mediate the peace talks between the two parties and to assist them to conclude the signing of the cease-fire Agreement.
  • Mr Charles Nqakula (Minster for Safety), was appointed by President Mbeki to be the Chief Mediator of the peace process. The DFA Special Envoy for the Great lakes, Ambassador Mamabolo is the chief political negotiator assisting Minister Nqakula. The peace negotiations commenced in May 2006, in Tanzania.
  • On 18 June 2006 the two parties signed the Dar Es Salaam Agreement of Principles Towards Lasting Peace, Security and Stability in Burundi and the AU expressed its satisfaction of the signing of the Agreement during its meeting of 19 June 2006.
  • During the 27th AU Summit of the Regional Peace Initiative on 7 September 2006, the two parties successfully concluded the signing of the Comprehensive Cease-fire Agreement.
  • The guarantors of the signing of the Agreement included President Thabo Mbeki, President Yoweri Museveni and President Jakaya Kikwete.
  • The Agreement which was officially announced on 11 October 2006 makes provision for a Joint Verification Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM) whish is aimed at ensuring that the Cease-fire Agreement is implemented. The JVMM involves the AU, the UN and the Burundian parties.
  • The Facilitation Office and the JVMM have been created and have been operational since October 2006. The budget support for this office is being provided by the South African Government and is estimated at $3,300,000.
  • The implementation phase includes: the development of a detailed DDR plan, the signing of the necessary Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), deployment of the AU Special Task Force, the establishment of the necessary administrative capacity, the accommodation of the FNL leadership, the preparation on National Reconciliation Commission and the drawing up of budgets.
  • It should be noted that none of the FNL members attended the launching of the JVMM because they needed to be granted provisional immunity. On 3 November 2006, the bill to grant provisional immunity to the FNL members was adopted by the National Assembly.
  • The list of the FNL combatants has still to be submitted to the mediator and this delays the implementation process in terms of planning, budget, logistics, etc. Estimations are that there are 3 000 combatants.
  • The movement name "Palipehutu" creates problems. The Government of Burundi refuses to use it arguing that the name promotes ethnicity and that it, therefore could not be allowed to appear in any of the Burundian laws. However, this matter has now been resolved.
  • On 28 September 2006, the Government of Burundi requested the AU to provide security to the FNL leaders.
  • During its 65th meeting of the AU PSC in Addis Ababa on 9 November 2006, the meeting took note of the provision of the Cease-fire Agreement requesting the AU to establish a Special Task Force.
  • The meeting further welcomed the willingness expressed by South Africa to contribute to the establishment of the Special Task Force to protect the FNL members.
  • The AU Special Task Force primary function will be to secure the safety of the assembly areas.
  • The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) have to be finalised in order to create the mandate for the Mission. This has to be negotiated between the Government of Burundi and the AU Commission.
  • The AU PSC has authorised the deployment of the AU Protection Force and this will serve as the most important confidence-building measure for the implementation of the CCFA.
  • South Africa has availed itself to be the lead in the Protection Force. The force is expected to be in place for 6 months with the first troop rotation to take place in February 2007.
  • The South African Battalion that served under the UN Mission in Burundi (ONUB) has been re-hatted under the AU mandate when the UN mandate came to an end on 31 December 2006 and the UN has agreed not to remove some of its logistical facilities. (The final SANDF Force in Burundi will be 1 300 strong with 100 on standby in South Africa.)
  • South Africa is also in consultation with the government of Burundi for a post conflict reconstruction and development partnership.

Alleged Coup Plot

  • A Burundian court on Monday 15 January 2007 acquitted former President Domitien Ndayizeye and four others of charges they plotted a coup in the tiny central African country
  • The ruling said two remaining defendants, a former rebel leader and a civilian would have to serve jail terms over a conspiracy to kill President Pierre Nkurunziza and overthrow his government
  • Former rebel leader Alain Mugabarabona, whom the persecution accused of being the mastermind of the plot, will have to serve 20 years in jail
  • Co-defendant Tharcisse Ndayishimiye, who had told the court he attended meetings with the others, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

  • On 22 September 2006, a new 500-member National Assembly was inaugurated in the DRC, replacing the transitional parliament that was created by the 2002 Global and All-Inclusive Agreement. This constituted a landmark development in the history of the DRC, being the first democratically elected Parliament in over forty years.
  • The Provincial Assemblies which are to elect local governments in the DRC's 11 provinces were established on 18 December 2006 throughout the country. As part of the DRC's decentralising strategy, the Provincial Parliaments will take responsibility for local politics and key economic activities.
  • Mr. Vital Kamerhe was elected President of the National Assembly on 28 December 2006 with Mr. Antoine Gizenga being appointed, by means of a Presidential Ordinance, as Prime Minister on 30 December 2006. Both Mr. Kamerhe and Mr. Gizenga are part of the dominant AMP-PALU-UDEMO coalition that has formed a majority in the National Assembly.
  • Mr. Gizenga is presently engaged in consultations to form a new government that will consist of 57 Minister and Deputy-Minister posts.
  • The successful conclusion of democratic elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) marked the official end of the transitional period and initiated a development process. Understandably, the new administration in the DRC will face huge post election challenges, including uniting the country, finalisation towards forming a credible national army and police, capacity building of its bureaucracy, capacitated judicial system, provision of basic services through functioning provincial and local governance, economic reconstruction and development, etc.
  • South Africa is to assist the DRC in post conflict reconstruction projects aimed at laying the foundation for social justice and sustainable peace in the DRC. The support programmes to sustain development and prosperity in the DRC, are meant to set the foundation for a stable political and security environment that is needed to take the country forward.
  • South African assistance is to concentrate on four key areas, i.e.

    • Security Sector Reform - The Security Sector Reform (SSR) is of vital importance to the current transition in the DRC. The history of violent conflict is an indicator for future relapse into conflict. The first year after a conflict is when a country is most at risk of relapse. The integration of the armed forces is an attempt to avoid historical rivalries and to unite the former combatants. In the post election DRC, an integrated armed force is essential to protect the sovereignty of the country. A capable police force is also essential for maintaining law and order within the country.

    • Institutional Capacity Building - The following Departments are involved in projects in the DRC - the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Provincial and Local Government, Public Service and Administration and Housing.

    • Economic Development - The following Departments are involved in projects in the DRC - the Departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Transport, Minerals and Energy and Water Affairs and Forestry.

    • Humanitarian Assistance - there might be a need for South Africa to encourage South African civil society organizations to get involved in this area of assistance.

  • South Africa reiterates its calls for the International community to remain engaged in the DRC. The Security Council is still to discuss the renewing of the mandate of MONUC (The UN's peacekeeping force in the DRC), scheduled to end on 15 February 2007.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

  • President Gbagbo's five proposals: Following public consultations for two weeks from the 7th - 21st November 2006, President Gbagbo on 19th December 2006 made five proposals to help break the impasse in resolving the crisis:

    • Direct negotiations with the rebels regarding the disarmament and re-unification of the country. Negotiations to be completed by the end of January 2007.
    • The cancellation of the confidence zone because the military co-operation has ceased.
    • Creation of a national civic service for the youth - plan to recruit 40 000 youth by the end of February 2007, for period of 18 months of skills training
    • General amnesty
    • Aid programme for the return of the displaced war victims

International Working Group

  • The 12th ministerial meeting of the International Working Group was held in Abidjan on 12 January 2007
  • The Group notes that the said process has totally stalled mainly because of:
  • Identification
  • DDR
  • The dismantling and disarmament of the militias
  • The redeployment of the administration
  • The restructuring of the armed forces
  • Preparations for credible elections
  • Taking into account the proposal for direct dialogue, made by the Head of State, the Group reaffirms its commitment to permanent consultation between the Ivorian parties with a view to the total implementation of Resolution 1721. This dialogue must be an opportunity to discuss substantive issues for the resolution of the crisis:
  • Identification
  • DDR
  • The dismantling and disarmament of the militias
  • The redeployment of the administration
  • The restructuring of the armed forces
  • Preparations for credible elections throughout the national territory
  • The Group expresses its deep concern that the current impasse is prolonging the suffering of the population, exacerbating political and social tensions and threatening to destabilise the West African sub-region. The group suggests the following measures to the Security Council:
  • To urge the current chairmen of AU and ECOWAS to convene meetings, as soon as possible, of the main Ivorian parties, in order to unblock the situation and re-launch the implementation of Resolution 1721
  • To dispatch an ad hoc mission to the Security Council
  • The Group will hold its next meeting on 23 February 2007 in Côte d'Ivoire
  • The ECOWAS Summit will be held in Burkina Faso on Friday 19th February 2007.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL VOTE ON MYANMAR

  • Let me say at the outset, we are deeply concerned at the situation in Myanmar.
  • We will continue to call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and to fight the restoration of democracy, for human rights and freedom in Myanmar.
  • Let me explain why we voted against the resolution:

    • The first reason is that we believe that this resolution will compromise the "good offices" of the Secretary-General in dealing with sensitive matters of peace, security and human rights. The General Assembly established the "good offices" mission of the Secretary-General to make it possible for the UN to establish a channel for private and confidential communication. The commendable work done by Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, in Myanmar has been through utilizing the "good offices" of the Secretary-General. This resolution, should it be adopted, may close forever the window of hope and communication opened by Professor Gambari.

    • The second reason is that this resolution deals with issues that would be best left to the Human Rights Council. The Non-Aligned Countries and the G77 and China consistently voiced concern at the tendency of the Security Council to encroach on the mandate of the other United Nations entities. Overall the draft resolution contains information that would be best left to the Human Rights Council. Ironically, should the Security Council adopt this resolution it would mean that the Human Rights Council would not be able to address the situation in Myanmar while the Security Council remains seized with the matter; and

    • The third and most fundamental reason is that this resolution does not fit with the Charter mandate conferred upon the Security Council which is to deal with matters that are a threat to international peace and security.

it is worth recalling that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has stated that Myanmar is not a threat to international peace and security. On 11 January 2007 the ASEAN Ministers meeting in the Philippines reaffirmed that Myanmar is no threat to international peace and security.

We did not question, judge or comment on the content of this resolution.

It remains our concern that the Security Council deal with matters affecting international peace and security and not overlap with matters best dealt with by other offices of the UN.

This matter would have created a precedence that will be very difficult to sustain and create challenges for the UN Security Council in the long run.

AFRICAN UNION

Seeing that many matters on the agenda of the Security Council deal with Africa, the forthcoming African Union Summit and related meetings have renewed significance.

Ministerial Meeting

Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will on Tuesday 23 January 2007 depart for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where she will lead a senior South African government delegation to the 10th Ordinary Ministerial session of the African Union scheduled from Thursday - Friday 25-26

January 2007.

Issues on the agenda of discussions are expected to include, among others:

  • Chairperson of the African Union in 2007;
  • The draft budget of the organisation;
  • Peace, security and stability on the continent including the situation in Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Mauritania, Somalia and Sudan;
  • Africa - Europe dialogue; and
  • The situation in the Middle East and Palestine

Summit

South African President Thabo Mbeki, supported by Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, will lead a senior South African government delegation to the 8th Summit of African Union Heads of State and Government and 6th African Peer Review Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia scheduled from Sunday - Tuesday 28-30 January 2007.

African Peer Review Forum (APRF)

President Mbeki will attend the 6th African Peer Review Forum and the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) meeting in Addis Ababa on Sunday 28 January 2007.

It is expected that the country report of South Africa will be presented at the APRF on Sunday 28 January 2007.

The Forum will examine cross-cutting issues as well as core issues of general application to a number of countries arising out of the APRM reports of the countries already peer reviewed.

Issues on the agenda of the APRF will include:

  • Peer review of South Africa
  • First Annual Report on Implementation of Ghana's Programme of Action.
  • Statement on the Implementation of the Rwanda Programme of Action
  • Statement on the Implementation of Kenya's Programme of Action.

African union Summit of Heads of state and Government

The 2007 Summit will focus on two main themes:

  • The role of Science, Technology and Scientific Research for the Development of Africa; and
  • Climate change in Africa.

The Summit will serve as a platform from which to launch 2007 as the International year of African football. In this regard, the Khartoum Summit in January 2006, declared 2007 as the International Year of African Football. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) will, in 2007, also celebrate its 50th Anniversary and the FIFA 2010 World Cup will be launched as an African event.

In addition, African Union Heads of State and Government are expected to adopt the budget of the Organisation for 2007.

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

President Thabo Mbeki will on Thursday 25 January 2007 depart for Davos, Switzerland where he will attend the annual World Economic Forum under the banner "Shaping the Global Agenda," scheduled from Thursday - Sunday 25-28 January 2007.

President Mbeki will be supported by Ministers Mandisi Mpahlwa and Trevor Manuel.

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting offers a unique opportunity for leaders from all walks of life - business, government, the media, academia, the arts and civil society - to shape the global agenda for 2007. In this regard, Davos 2007 will focus on the following issues:

  • Driving growth;
  • Scaling up sustainable solutions;
  • Addressing global fault lines;
  • Exploring identity and the communication disconnect; and
  • Defining leadership mandates and the power of the network.

Accordingly President Mbeki will on Friday 26 January 2007 participate in a session entitled "Africa Sets a New Pace," during which discussions are expected to focus on, among others, how resource-rich economies can be incentivized to introduce good governance systems and which successful non-resource driven economies can provide models for growth and what strategies are needed to support and sustain growth?

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, regarding Somalia - what kind of assistance will South Africa render to Somalia - this is not a peacekeeping mission, this will be a peace force - will this be a consideration when Cabinet is making its decision?

Answer The reality is that there has been no effective governance in Somalia for many years - there are conflicts between clans, tribes and other external influences. This further complicates the situation. A political solution is the only way forward. If an African force is necessary to ensure the political processes can follow, then is that must be done.

The AU and UN are suggesting that the conflict in the main has ended - we await the report of the AU team (of which a South African is part) on this matter.

South Africa is heavily stretched in terms of support for peace processes - we have troops in 4-5 peacekeeping operations - I do not know of many other countries that are as stretched as we are.

It is our internal potential and the nature of what is needed in Somalia that will determine our response.

Question Deputy Minister, when do you anticipate a decision will be taken on troop deployment to Somalia - is the SANDF looking at what we can provide to Somalia?

Answer South Africa is constantly assessing what it can do to support peace missions. We do this on a regular basis and this is not confined only to Somalia. We expect that since the Ethiopian forces want to withdraw as soon as possible (by the end of the week according to some reports) the AU should be able to replace these forces as soon as possible. However, I am not sure it will be possible to assemble the troops and the necessary logistical arrangements quickly. To date, only Uganda has volunteered 1500 troops and this has to be ratified by Parliament.

It is therefore very interesting to note the comments of the EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana that the UN may be required to support this initiative.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what would be the nature of the military support provided to Somalia?

Answer It has been estimated that 8000 AU troops will be required. The details have not been fully worked out yet - we are awaiting the report of the political and military fact-finding mission that is presently in Somalia.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, is South Africa looking at sending military equipment to Somalia?

Answer We are looking at supporting this initiative holistically - when this matter is discussed at the appropriate level in the AU, then South Africa can assess what is required and how it can contribute.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, I have heard your explanation of your vote with regard to Myanmar - South Africa is the only country who felt like it did - why did it not simply abstain like other countries?

Answer Although three countries Indonesia, Qatar and Congo abstained, there was no difference in our positions as to why the matter should not be brought to the Security Council - we chose not to abstain since an abstention does not allow for an adequate explanation. We could easily have abstained easily since the joint veto of China and Russia, the first in history, would have been enough. We wanted to bring our principled position to the fore regarding a matter that has been the cause of some concern for quite a while.

We do not want the Security Council to deal with matters that they are not mandated to deal with in terms of the Charter and should be handled by other UN instruments.

We did not however want to be ambiguous in our position - viz that the United Nations Security Council should not be seized with matters that do not threaten international peace and security and that are better handled by other UN bodies. We wanted to assert this principle and position hence we chose to vote against the resolution.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, when does the UN mandate in Burundi end?

Answer It ended on 31 December 2006 - our forces are now being re-hatted as part of the African. This is a further reason why we are so stretched. We will have a rotation in February.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, with regard to Côte d'Ivoire - a group of experts has just concluded an investigation in terms of the arms embargo. It has been found that a South Africa and a Belgian are in breach of this embargo. What will the South African government do to address this matter?

Answer The UN team has concluded its investigation - one of the findings has been that the UN does not have sufficient resources to effectively monitor the arms embargo. The contravention by a South African is being investigated.

I am often surprised by the instances of misinformation with regard to some situations - for example, there have been reports that South African Defence Force members have been in Côte d'Ivoire with nefarious intent. Let me explain, once our mediation ended, our troops and all related logistical support had to be withdrawn. A team of defence ministry personnel did visit Côte d'Ivoire to facilitate this - but they did so in fully uniform and stayed in the same hotel as other officials - there could have been no nefarious intent.

Let me reiterate - we have not interests in the region beyond assisting the people of Côte d'Ivoire implement and resolve outstanding issues and prepare to hold credible elections.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, there are reports that the Chinese President will be visiting Africa soon - can you confirm this - what would be the objective of him visiting Africa again within such a short time?

Answer Yes, the President will visit Africa - he will visit 7 countries of which South Africa will be one. We will do a fuller briefing next week.

The recent China-Africa Forum has given new impetus to relations between Africa and China and you quite rightly notice that this has been the first sustained period during which so many senior Chinese officials have visited South Africa and Africa. I would say that the visit will be focused on consolidating relations between Africa and China in terms of the outcomes of the FOCAC Summit.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what is the status of the kidnapped South Africans in Iraq? And the casualty rate? What are your views on the execution of Saddam Hussein?

Answer We do not have a mission in Iraq and rely on reports from our Mission in Jordan. To date we have been advised that the South Africans are still alive and negotiations are continuing.

The UN yesterday released a report that 34000 civilians have died in the last year - we think this is an underestimation - just yesterday 70 students were killed when a car bomb exploded. It is clear that Iraq is in a state of civil war.

Regarding the execution of Saddam Hussein - you know our views - we have clearly said we oppose the death penalty. South Africa joined many countries, including the Vatican in condemning the way in which Saddam Hussein was executed. Yesterday, two other defendants were executed. The manner of the execution is one of which we must be aware and criticise. It has only served to inflame the situation in Iraq - the Sunni-Shiite tensions have been raised to new heights. We do believe that more than a military solution is required.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

17 January 2007

Quick Links

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 18 January, 2007 9:38 AM
This site is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution with Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher.
2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa