Notes following Media Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre, Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Thursday 25 October 2007
PRESIDENT MBEKI TO PAY STATE VISIT TO NAMIBIA
South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will on Monday 29 October 2007 depart for Windhoek, Namibia ahead of President Mbeki who is scheduled to pay a State Visit on Tuesday 30 October 2007. On Wednesday 31 October 2007 President Mbeki will together with his Namibian counterpart President Hifikepunye Pohamba co-chair the South Africa – Namibia Investor Conference.
President Thabo Mbeki and his senior government and business delegation will visit Namibia within the context of South Africa’s priority to consolidate bilateral political, economic and trade relations with Namibia as well as the SADC and NEPAD programmes.
Discussions between Presidents Mbeki and Pohamba on Tuesday 30 October 2007 are expected to include, among others:
- The status of bilateral political, economic and trade relations between the two countries and how to consolidate and increase such relations;
- A review of political, social and economic developments in the region including the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe; and
- The forthcoming Africa – European Union Summit to be hosted by Portugal 8-9 December 2007.
Presidents Mbeki and Pohamba will on Wednesday 31 October 2007 co-chair the South Africa – Namibia Investor Conference. The Conference aims to:
- Stimulate domestic investment and attract foreign investment;
- Showcase investment projects in Namibia;
- Promote and encourage regional integration and economic development; and
- Facilitate an increase in trade between Namibia and other economic regions globally.
The Investors Conference has attracted a lot of interest, not only from South Africa but from several other countries. So far 613 participants from 189 countries have registered for the Conference.
It is expected that an Agreement regarding the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Agreements will be signed during the State Visit.
While in Namibia President Mbeki will also address a joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament and lay a wreath at Heroe’s Acre.
AFRICAN UNION COMMITTEE OF 10 MEETING
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad will on Friday 26 October 2007 depart for Accra, Ghana where he will lead a South African delegation to the African Union Committee of 10 meeting scheduled for Saturday – Sunday 27-28 October 2007.
It was clearly reiterated at the African Union Summit in Accra, Ghana in July 2007 that the ultimate objective of the African Union is to achieve a United States of Africa with a Union Government.
Outcomes of Accra Summit
The Assembly of the Union, meeting at its 9 th Ordinary Session in Accra, Ghana from 1-3 July 2007,
Recalling our decision Assembly/AU/Dec 156 (VIII) adopted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2007 on the need for a “Grand Debate on the Union Government” with a view to providing a clear vision of the future of the African Union and of African Unity:
Convinced that the ultimate objective of the African Union is the United States of Africa with a Union Government as envisaged by the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Union and, in particular, the visionary leader Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana;
Also convinced of the need for common responses to the major challenges of globalisation facing Africa and boosting regional integration processes through an effective continental mechanism;
Recognising that opening up narrow domestic markets to greater trade and investment through freer movement of persons, goods, services and capital would accelerate growth thus, reducing excessive weaknesses of many of our Member States;
Further recognising that the Union Government should be built on common values that need to be identified and agreed upon as benchmarks;
Acknowledging the importance of involving the African peoples in order to ensure that the African Union is a Union of peoples and not just a “Union of States and governments”, as well as the African Diaspora in the processes of economic and political integration of our continent;
Hereby declare as follows:
- There is a need to accelerate the economic and political integration of the African continent, including the formation of a Union Government for Africa.
- The ultimate objective of the African Union is to create the United States of Africa.
- We reiterate our earlier decision on the rationalisation and strengthening of the Regional Economic Communities and the harmonisation of their activities so as to lead to the creation of an African Common Market, through the stages set in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (Abuja Treaty), with a reviewed and shorter timeframe to be agreed upon in order to accelerate the economic integration.
- We agree on the roadmap to attaining the Union Government as follows:
- To conduct immediately, an Audit of the Executive Council in terms of Article 10 of the Constitutive Act, the Commission as well as the other organs of the African Union in accordance with the Terms of Reference adopted by the 10 th Extraordinary Session of our Executive Council held in Zimbali, South Africa on 10 May 2007.
- To commission detailed studies on the following:
- Identification of the contents of the Union Government concept and its relations with national governments;
- Identification of domains of competence and the impact of its establishment on the sovereignty of member states;
- Definition of the relationship between the Union Government and the Regional Economic Communities;
- Elaboration of a roadmap and timeframe for establishing the Union Government; and
- Identification of additional sources of financing the activities of the Union.
- The outcome of the studies will be submitted to a Committee of Heads of State and Government which will make appropriate recommendations to the next ordinary session of our Assembly.
Done in Accra this 3 rd Day of July 2007
WORLD BANK ANNOUNCES THAT 25 AFRICAN COUNTRIES RECORD IMPRESSIVE GROWTH
As the curtains were drawn on Tuesday 23 October 2007 on the 2007 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the bank's President, Robert Zoellick, said there was "good news" coming from Africa.
He said 17 countries on the continent achieved average annual growth of 5.5% between 1995 and 2005, while another eight achieved 7.5% growth within the period under review.
Given the progress report so far, Zoellick said African countries needed assistance to develop their infrastructure in order to attain higher growth level.
"These countries want assistance to build infrastructure for higher growth - especially energy and physical facilities that can support regional integration. They also want us to help develop local financial markets, including microfinance, that can mobilise African savings for Africans," he said.
According to him, greater investments in technological research and dissemination, sustainable land management, agricultural supply chains, irrigation, rural micro-credit, and policies that strengthen market opportunities, and assistance with rural vulnerabilities and insecurities were areas that African countries needed to focus on.
Zoellick said the reality of developed countries not meeting their commitments would result in most African countries not meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
He admitted that the bank's knowledge of handling conflicts was modest which required a new approach.
"Frankly, our understanding of how to deal with these devastating cases is modest at best. I suspect we will need a more integrated approach involving security, political frameworks, rebuilding local capacity with quick support, reintegration of refugees, and more flexible development assistance".
Zoellick harped on the need for globalisation to benefit the world's poor, most of whom come from developing countries also adding that that poor countries are more at risk from the impact of climate change.
He said the bank would support increased "resilience" to climate even as he acknowledged the concern of developing countries that resources for fighting climate change would come at the expense of other development needs.
The South African government is deeply concerned about recent developments in Sudan.
On 11 October 2007, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) suspended its participation in the Sudan Government of National Unity (GNU). In this regard, eighteen Cabinet Ministers and three Presidential Advisors have suspended their participation in the GNU until the grievances of Southern Sudan have been addressed. These include the “obstruction of democratic transformation, lack of initiation of national reconciliation and healing process, non-implementation of Abyei Protocol, non-completion of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) integration and redeployment, lack of transparency in oil sector operations, inadequate funding of census process and delay of North-South borders demarcation.”
Progress has not been made in the resolution of the key contentious issues of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), viz the Abyei Border dispute, the North-South boundaries, wealth sharing and security arrangements. In addition, there are delays in implementing issues such as the census which has been shifted to February 2008 after it was initially scheduled to be held in July 2007.
The conduct of the national census will assist in determining constituencies for the 2009 elections. Also, despite the promulgation of the Political Parties Act in February 2007, the electoral law has not been passed thus negatively affecting preparations for elections.
While the above issues are key to the decision by the SPLM, the trigger was the refusal by President Omer Hassan Ahmed El Bashir to allow the reshuffling of the SPLM Ministers in the GNU, particularly Dr Lam Akol, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Dr Telar Deng, Minister in the Presidency.
President El Bashir has responded to the SPLM’s demands by issuing a Presidential decree reshuffling three ministerial posts, two presidential advisors and six state ministers. Despite this progress the SPLM is still refusing to resume participation in the GNU citing that the reshuffling was not in line with the list of Ministers submitted to the Presidency. In this new arrangement Dr Lam Akol was replaced by Lt General Deng Alor Kouol as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs while the SPLM had identified Dr Mansour Khalid. The SPLM is also demanding the NCP to address the genuine issues related to the implementation of the CPA presented to the Presidency by the SPLM leadership. In light of the above the implementation of the CPA is facing serious challenges as the meeting of President El Bashir and First Vice President of the Sudan failed to yield any results.
The South African government urges all sides to take all steps to ease the tensions and find solutions that will enable the full implementation of the CPA.
On a positive note, significant progress has been made in returning refugees to Southern Sudan. As such 158 576 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt have returned to Southern Sudan. However, it has also been reported that some returnees have decided to return back to their countries of asylum due to lack of basic infrastructure, health services and schools in Southern Sudan.
The Darfur Situation
Amid preparations for the peace talks between the Darfur armed groups and the Government of the Sudan (GOS) there are fears that violence in Darfur may be extended to other parts of the Sudan. These fears emanated from increasing violence since the announcement of the peace talks between the non signatories and the GOS to be held on 27 October 2007 in Libya. Among these was the deadly attack against the African Union Peacekeeping Mission (AMIS) headquarters in Haskanita, Southern Darfur. During this attack 10 peacekeepers were killed and 60 others went missing. This was the first major assault against AMIS since its deployment in 2004. The escalation of violence has prompted the UN to consider the deployment of two infantry battalions to support AMIS before the deployment of the UN-AU Hybrid Force.
While investigations to identify the perpetrators of this attack are ongoing, it is widely speculated that it was aimed at looting weapons by the Darfur armed groups to defend themselves.
The South African government strongly condemns the criminal acts and urges the relevant authorities to take urgent steps to identify and arrest the perpetrators of these acts.
On 15 October 2007, Representatives of seven Darfur armed groups met in Juba, Southern Sudan to find a common position in preparation for the forthcoming negotiations with the Government of the Sudan. Following the above-mentioned meeting the SLM has announce that they will not participate in the scheduled peace talks citing that the UN and the AU have failed to delay the meeting to allow them to form a united position and agree on the agenda.
The South African government rejects the rationale of boycotting the talks.
Other challenges to the talks include the fragmentation of the Darfur armed groups, the perception that some of the armed groups are not interested in the resolution of the conflict but in gaining material and other incentives associated with peace processes.
The South African government urges all parties to be flexible and constructive during negotiations. Bringing Abdel Wahid el-Nur to the peace talks and other key stake holders including the Darfur civil society will contribute in the acceptance of the outcome of the Libya peace talks.
UN Hybrid Force
While the GOS has agreed to the deployment of UNAMID, the UN has raised concern regarding “bureaucratic obstacles” posed by the GOS in the deployment of UNAMID.
The South African government believes it is important that these obstacles are concretely and accurately identified so that through constructive negotiations they can be resolved: i) troop contributions and pledges are likely to be between 73-82% African based on current offers; ii) African countries that have already made offers which include: Rwanda, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Egypt, and South Africa; iii) the request for a battalion from South Africa for deployment by December 2007; iv) the readiness of Nigeria, Rwanda, Thailand, Nepal to deploy; v) the proposition by Thailand and Nepal to deploy and the fact that Sudan has been informed of that proposal which enjoys the support of the AU; vi) Sweden and Norway to contribute engineering teams; vii) Egypt which has indicated that it would deploy 2 500 troops; viii) the fact that most AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) battalions will need to be reinforced to meet UN standards (i.e. 800 per battalion and this also applies to SA.
In its efforts to address the spill-over effect of the Darfur conflict to the neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR), the UN Security Council has passed resolution 1778 authorising the deployment of a European Union (EU) force and UN police to improve security, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and contribute to protecting civilians in Chad and CAR.
Darfur Peace Talks in Libya
President Omar El-Bashir had in September said during a visit to Italy that he would initiate a ceasefire at the start of the Libyan talks.
Sudan 's UN ambassador Abdelmahmood Mohammed reiterated on Tuesday 23 October 2007 it will announce a cease-fire at the start of peace talks in Sirte, Libya with rebel groups on October 27: "This will be a good confidence building measure when all parties agree to a ceasefire, which we are going to announce on the 27th," he said.
Spokesperson of the 6 rebel groups Issam al-Haj was speaking in the southern Sudanese capital of Juba, where the United Nations and the African Union had been hosting the Darfur rebels in a bid to agree a unified position ahead of Saturday's talks in Sirte, Libya.
Six rebel factions from the war-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur said on Tuesday 23 October 2007 that they would boycott peace talks in Libya this week because the Khartoum government has no legitimacy.
The South African government rejects this argument: there cannot be any meaningful negotiations without the participation of the Sudanese government.
The preliminary talks were an initiative of the head of the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement, Salva Kiir, whose SPLM signed a peace deal with Khartoum in 2005 that ended Africa's longest running civil war.
However the SPLM on October 11 withdrew from the unity government complaining the President Omar al-Beshir and his ruling National Congress Party had failed to apply crucial elements of the 2005 peace deal.
The six groups refusing to participate are different factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army under the command of Ahmed Abdel Shafi, Ibrahim Ahmed Ibrahim, Jar al-Nabi Abdel Karim and Mohammed Aki Kelai as well as the Northern Command faction and another group of west Darfuri rebels.
However, the SLM/A faction of Khamis Abdallah Bakr said it would attend the Sirte talks.
AU Commission chief Alpha Oumar Konare visiting Sudan on Tuesday reiterated Khartoum's determination "for Sirte to be a big success" after meeting Beshir.
"We hope that all our other Sudanese brothers have the same inclination and what we're hearing is that all these brothers are determined to work toward winning the peace," Konare told journalists in Khartoum.
"It's time for peace, it's the moment for peace and we cannot lose time. We no longer have the right to lose time given the damage that we can see.”
US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte in September raised the possibility of sanctions against rebels who failed to attend the talks.
"If an important rebel group chooses not to attend, not to send a representative, should not be a cost-free choice," he said.
The South African government fully supports the AU-UN initiative and supports the conclusion of the UN Security Council that action will be taken against any individual or group that obstructs the peace process.
The South African government also calls on governments and organisations who continue to assist and give sanctuary to the rebel groups to cease to provide any such assistance.
SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT CALLS FOR CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES IN DARFUR AS WEEKEND PEACE TALKS DATE APPROACHES
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2007/41 reads as follows:
“The Security Council stresses the urgent need for an inclusive and sustainable political settlement in Darfur and strongly welcomes, in this regard, the convening of peace talks on 27 October in Sirte, under the leadership of United Nations Special Envoy Jan Eliasson and African Union Special Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim, who have the Council’s full support.
“The Security Council expresses its strong concern at the continuing deterioration in the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, and urges all parties to exercise restraint immediately, avoiding retaliation and escalation.
“The Security Council calls on all parties to attend and to engage fully and constructively in the talks and, as a first step, to urgently agree and implement a cessation of hostilities to be overseen by the United Nations and the African Union. The Council underlines its willingness to take action against any party that seeks to undermine the peace process, including by failing to respect such a cessation of hostilities or by impeding the talks, peacekeeping or humanitarian aid. The Council also recognizes that due process must take its course.
“The Security Council underlines that an inclusive political settlement and the successful deployment of UNAMID are essential for re-establishing peace and stability in Darfur. The Council expresses its deep concern at the delays in deploying UNAMID. The Council calls, in this regard, for Member States to urgently make available the aviation and ground transport units still required for UNAMID, and for all parties to facilitate and expedite UNAMID’s effective deployment.
“The Security Council requests the Secretary General, in his regular 30-day reports to the Council on UNAMID, to also report on progress being made on, and any obstacles to, the political process and the situation on the ground.”
Press conference by special envoy for Darfur on peace talks in Libya
The peace talks about to open in Libya on Saturday, 27 October, aimed to bring together the parties to the conflict in Darfur and provide an opportunity for negotiations in one centralized location, Jan Eliasson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Darfur, said at a Headquarters press conference today.
Speaking via videoconference from the Eritrean capital of Asmara, where he is conducting a pre-meeting participation drive with Salim Ahmed Salim, his African Union counterpart, Mr. Eliasson said not all the parties were expected to attend the talks in Sirte, Libya, and there were indications that some were not ready. “But I want to very much make the point that the consultations they are carrying out now in Juba, and perhaps elsewhere, will, of course, also continue in Sirte.”
He said the meeting was expected to open on Saturday and the various Darfur rebel movements would have plenty of time to talk, but negotiations would start only after all parties were fully prepared. But a date was needed for turning the tide and breaking the vicious cycle in Darfur. The meeting date of 27 October had been set by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Alpha Oumar Konaré, Chairman of the African Union Commission, on the basis of agreements made with the movements at the August talks in Arusha that the talks would be held at the end of October. Invitations had gone out the week before and it was to be hoped that the movements, which had been working in Juba, would realize that their attendance would be in the best interests of their people.
The Special Envoy said he had met with President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea while in Asmara, and in Khartoum, with the Sudan’s chief meeting negotiator, Nafi Ali Nafi. Overall, the Sirte meeting was the result of consultations held over 10 months with rebel movements, the Government of the Sudan and representatives of civil society and countries in the region, not least Eritrea, Libya, Chad and Egypt.
He said the plan now was to open the meeting on Saturday afternoon, hold a “general debate” at the foreign ministerial level on Sunday and achieve an agreement on a cessation of hostilities by the commitment of at least one party. Topics would then be addressed according to their degree of urgency and complexity, with the issues of compensation and security being taken up quickly. Other questions, such as power-sharing, would take longer to work out since they dealt with governance issues.
In response to a question, he said the main objective was to bring “on track” those involved with the crux of the conflict: the need for people to return to their land, which was now occupied by people who did not own it. Only “band-aid” measures had been applied to the situation in Darfur so far, and the Sirte talks represented the moment of truth. Of course, some wanted them to fail.
Responding to another question, he conceded that the situation on the ground was worrying, given the tragic events of the past month and the unrest in the camps, where people had been living for more than four years and teenagers were becoming radicalized due to frustration. There were also tensions inside the Sudanese Government with problems between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party over the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that had ended the civil war between North and South. In addition, the Darfur rebel movements, including the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), had splintered and influential SLM Chairman Abdul Wahid’s resistance to participating in the peace process was as strong as ever.
But the Sirte talks must succeed to avoid a dangerous situation, Mr. Eliasson said. To that end, the Government was facilitating the participation of civil society and its willingness to do so was the most encouraging aspect of the talks about to open. It was still too early to tell how many parties would take part, but new participants were still being picked up amid political uncertainties, the reluctance of people in camps to attend and logistical challenges such as the processing of Government permits.
In response to a question about lowered expectations for the outcome of the talks, given all the uncertainties about attendance, the Special Envoy said the opportunity offered by the talks was also the occasion for a “reality update”.
Asked about the role of Libya in the talks, he said that country was hosting the event but in substance it was on the same level as the Sudan’s other neighbours -- Chad, Egypt and Eritrea. Their involvement was pivotal because borders set up by colonial Powers did not always reflect the realities of cross-border tribal relations.
South Africa ’s involvement
South Africa as an active member of the United Nations and the African Union has been invited to attend the opening session of the Darfur peace talks in Sirte, Libya on 27 October 2007. The participation of South Africa in the opening session will provide South Africa with an opportunity to interact with all role players in the Darfur conflict. In addition, South Africa has been requested to contribute additional troops to the United Nations African Union Mission in the Sudan (UNAMID).
The implementation of the DFA-GOSS-UNISA Capacity and Institution Building Project for the Government of Southern Sudan Officials is going according to plan. To date, more than 700 GOSS officials have received training in South Africa. The training of forty one Government of Southern Sudan Officials in Diplomacy and International Relations commenced on 23 September 2007 to 28 October 2007. It is expected that the training on Local Government Public and Service Administration will be implemented before the end of December 2007.
The South African government is extremely concerned that the process of national reconciliation, currently underway in Somalia, continues to be frustrated by difficult political, economic and social conditions. As part of the broader national reconciliation, phase one -focusing on clan reconciliation- of the National Reconciliation Congress/Conference (NRC) was conducted from July – August 2007 with the adoption of a number of resolutions and a time-table for implementation. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) together with other organisers of the conference hailed this stage (sometimes called Social stage) of the NRC a success. Accordingly, the adopted Resolutions are aimed at laying the ground work for the future and similar reconciliation conferences. The declaration includes: total ceasefire of hostilities among the clans, disarmament of clan militia and return of collected ammunitions to government.
However violent attacks and clan violence continue to haunt the Somalis; with road side bombing, insurgency and counter insurgency being common against civilians, the TFG and the Ethiopian defence force. There is still ongoing tension between the TFG and some groups of the Islamic Courts Movement who are now operating from different parts of the region. Some insurgents have vowed to launch an Iraq-style guerrilla war until the country becomes an Islamic state.
In addition to the violent attacks, political instability within the TFG is again emerging with 22 of a group of 30 Ministers signing a letter demanding a vote of no confidence in the Government. The reason behind such a move is alleged to be that the TFG has failed to deliver on its mandate, particularly the drafting of the Constitution, the holding of census and setting up of functional regional Governments.
There are increasing reports that this political instability has also been exacerbated by the escalating tension between President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi regarding the latter’s term in office. About 223 members of parliament out of a 275 total met recently to deliberate over the fate of Prime Minister Gedi. Some MPs argued that the term of office for Gedi's has expired while his supporters maintained that the Prime Minister still has 14 months remaining in his term. The voting relating to Gedi’s fate was however incomplete with 80 parliamentarians walking out during the voting and some other abstaining.
The South African government supports all efforts to normalise the situation. It is expected that the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, will make his first visit to the Somali capital Mogadishu with the aim of reconciling the different parties. The proposed visit follows the request by the Somali government to the Arab League to change its permanent representative in the country, after having accused former Arab League representative in Somalia, Abdullah Al-Arami, of being close to the Islamic Courts movement.
Ethiopia has again announced it will withdraw once the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has been adequately strengthened to deal with the violence and undertake peace keeping missions.
In July 2007 the African Union (AU) Commission extended the mandate of about 1,600 Ugandan peacekeepers under the auspices of AMISOM for a further six months. The decision to extend AMISOM was later adopted by the United Nations Security Council which also remains seized with the Somali conflict. African Countries that pledged to send their troops have thus far failed to do so due to security reasons and "financial constrains." These include: Ghana, Nigeria, Burundi and Malawi. We welcome the decisions of some countries, including the US, the EU and China who have since responded to the call of assisting with financial resources for peace keeping missions.
Over 400 000 Somali civilians have been displaced internally this year and forced to flee the country. According to figures compiled by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and a network of partners, of those 400 000, over 125 000 have returned to the city and another 27 000 fled between June and July 2007. The number of those fleeing rose sharply during the national reconciliation conference as a result of the intensifying violence. Piracy also continues to hamper humanitarian efforts. Recently, Somali pirates seized a cargo ship off the east African coast - one in a series of high-seas attacks in the past week.
The South African government expresses its deep concern that on 17 October 2007, the TFG security forces detained the Head of the UN world Food Programme (WFP), Mr Idris Osman, in an armed raid on the UN compound in the capital Mogadishu, allegedly as part of an investigation into unspecified crimes. Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi said the WFP head was "under investigation", but refused to specify what crime the UN employee was suspected of committing. Mr Osman was subsequently released. The resurgence of violence together with such raids has forced out most aid agencies leaving the UN and a few others to run limited operations.
Additionally, increased tension between the self-declared republic of Somaliland and the neighbouring self-declared autonomous region of Puntland over the disputed region of Sool has led to the displacement of up to 20,000 people from the area. Forces loyal to the Somaliland administration took control of the Sool regional capital Las Anod, which was previously controlled by Puntland on 15 October 2007; sparking violent demonstrations which called for Somaliland to withdraw its forces. Sool and Sanaag geographically fall within the borders of pre-independence British Somaliland, but most of the clans are linked to Puntland.
South Africa supports the National Reconciliation process in Somalia and is in full support of Somalia's capacity and institutional building as a means towards restoring lasting peace in the country and the region. To that end, efforts are underway within the DFA in consultation with other stakeholders to device a strategic framework policy to contribute to finding a solution.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
The situation in the Eastern and northern part of the DRC remains an area of concern after the recent clashes between the FARDC and General Nkunda’s militia. The continued fighting between the parties is precarious for the stability of the DRC.
These clashes in North Kivu have resulted in more than 150,000 people being displaced and t he numbers continues to rise due to insecurity in the province. The fighting also prevents humanitarian aid from reaching many displaced persons and is creating a dire humanitarian situation. The United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR) has also reported that 8,000 Congolese refugees have fled to neighbouring Uganda following the clashes. This has the possibility of creating a regional humanitarian crisis with refugees crossing the borders of the DRC into neighbouring countries.
Remarks by MONUC Force Commander
At the weekly MONUC press conference in Kinshasa on Wednesday 17 October 2007, MONUC force commander General Babacar Gaye reiterated MONUC's mandate, as the DRC government seeks to establish its authority in troubled North Kivu province.
General Gaye explained that in Masisi territory during the course of an evacuation of FARDC wounded by MONUC during the recent clashes, the local population began throwing stones at the blue helmets.
“This equates to incomprehension of the nature of our action by the local population. I also received a report yesterday that FARDC soldiers arriving into Goma had a less than friendly attitude towards our troops,” the General explained.
He went on to say that MONUC’s mandate was very clear, with the priority of ensuring the security of the local population.
“In North Kivu we have deployed Mobile Operating Bases, we escort the humanitarian convoys, and we are close to the displaced camps. In this regard our action is quiet and permanent.”
In addition, General Gaye said that MONUC’s mandate is to give support to the unfolding political process, and to support the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC).
“We give advice and assistance to the FARDC. MONUC supports the FARDC in North Kivu with air reconnaissance, and air transport for munitions, troops and the evacution of wounded. The towns of Goma and Sake are also protected by MONUC.”
He underlined that it’s the duty of the international community in a crisis situation to recommend a peaceful solution to all parties.
“MONUC is a peacekeeping force and our preferred option is that the combatants enter brassage immediately without conditions in a peaceful manner. If this does not happen, it is clear that there is an elected government, which has a duty to protect the population. It is not the responsibility for anyone other than the legal government of this country.”
General Gaye concluded by saying it is necessary to give a peaceful solution every possible chance to be implemented.
“It is not a weakness by any side to give a chance to a peaceful solution, it’s in the interests of the population who are the priority in this situation. To give a peaceful solution a chance, communication needs to be improved, and it is necessary to multiply the kinds of actions that call people to reason.”
MONUC has stated that it will continue to assure the protection of the local population under its mandate. In addition, MONUC’s mandate is to give support to the unfolding political process, and to support the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC).
Under a rticle 190 of the Congolese constitution, no one may organize military or para military groupings or private militias. The forces of General Nkunda are therefore illegal and are urged to take advantage of the opportunity to enter the integration process. South Africa urges the militias or combatants to enter the process immediately, without conditions and in a peaceful manner.
The Security Sector Reform meeting scheduled to be held in Kinshasa soon is essential for the creation of a cohesive national army which is a crucial step towards establishing lasting peace in the DRC. The processes of “brassage” “mixage” and demobilisation are crucial and all combatants are urged to participate.
South Africa notes the Round Table on Peace and Reconciliation that was held in North and South Kivu. South Africa supports the holding of a follow up to the two Round Tables, which is currently being planned to be held in Kinshasa, to enable the Deputies from the Kivus to participate and make contributions to the outcomes of the Round Table.
The International Community is once again urged to assist the Congolese people and to recommend a peaceful solution to all parties.
THE STATUS OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COMPREHENSIVE CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT
On 20 -21 October 2007, Facilitator, Minister Nqakula and Ambassador Mamabolo, Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region visited Burundi to revive the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism since the departure by PALIPEHUTU-FNL representatives in the process. The meeting was prompted by recent dissention from combat position by pro peace members of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL. Recently, the PALIPEHUTU-FNL group has split into two groups vis those who are pro peace and ready to implement the Cease-Fire Agreement, and those who prefer continuation of the armed conflict. The pro peace group had assembled in two sites, in deplorable humanitarian situation (lack of food, medication, shelter and security).
THE PALIPEHUTU-FNL SPLIT
The decision by the PALIPEHUTU-FNL Leadership to pull out of the JVMM has caused a split in the organisation with a number of war fatigue combatants defying the Leadership. To date 1500 (One thousand eight hundred) combatants have left their combat position handed themselves to the Burundi Government and indicated their readiness to begin the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration in accordance with the Cease-Fire Agreement.
This has created a crisis situation as it has led to confrontation between the pre and anti CCA factions of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL resulting in about 22 deaths so far. In addition the numerous combatants require food, shelter and protection. There is an urgent need to lobby the international community to assist with food aid and humanitarian assistance. The Burundi Government has so far provided accommodation and protection. It is envisaged that more of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL combatant’s will abandon their combat positions to join the dissident group.
The JVMM meeting convened on the 20 th October 2007 was held in the absence of the representatives of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL and is set to proceed with the construction of proper assemble and demobilization centres. This includes the provision of security and giving attention to the humanitarian situation of the dissenters. The dissident group of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL is willing to undergo the demobilization process whilst the Government of Burundi is ready to accept this group to Defence, Police and Intelligence Services.
Currently, the total strength of these dissenters is estimated at 2000. The group that had assembled in Rugasi Commune in the Province of Bubanza is 1600. This group had agreed to disarm and handed their weapons to the Burundi National Defence. The group in Randa has a total strength 409 and has refused to disarm. The group have total of 57 assault rifles and 120 hand grenades.
The biggest challenge on these group is the provision of security as the anti peace group had been attacking the pro peace group. Since the 15 October 2007, 35 dissenters had been killed.
In this regard, a Political Directorate had been established to provide political guidance to the JVMM and also to act as advisors to the Government of Burundi and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL on the implementation of the parties’ political programme. This is in view of the 31 stDecember 2007 deadline set by the African Union to end the implementation of the peace process.
The Directorate will be chaired by Ambassador JNK Mamabolo, deputized by Ambassador Bah, the Special Representative of the African Union in Burundi. Other Committee members are Ambassadors, Lembede, Mndolwa the Envoy to Burundi, Mahmood, Special Representative of the United Nations in Burundi. Ambassador Mamabolo will be stationed in Bujumbura from the 1 st November till the end of the Mission on 31 st December 2007.
In relation to the peace process, the Facilitator and leaders of the Region will continue to engage the PALIPEHUTU-FNL leadership with the hope that they return to the JVMM.
THE REGIONAL SUMMIT
The Facilitator, Minister Charles Nqakula has also requested the Regional Leadership to consider convening a Regional Summit that will receive a report and deliberate on the way forward in view of the failure of the parties to the CCA to implement the agreement they signed more than a year ago. If agreeable the Summit will be held possibly the first two weeks of November 2007.
The political situation in Cote d’Ivoire is still stable and political role players are positive about the peace process. Political parties are currently positioning themselves for the elections, which (according to the IEC) could be held by 31 October 2008 at the earliest and this is demonstrated by the fact that some of the political parties have even started campaigning around the country.
President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro continue to maintain a good working relationship. The two leaders meet on regular basis to take stock of the progress (or lack thereof) in the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement. Their good relationship could be witnessed by the fact that over the weekend of 20 October 2007, Prime Minister Soro was adressing a peace rally organised by the Young Patriots (Pro-Gbagbo youth movement) in Gagnoa (Gbagbo’s home town), a place which was a no-go area for Soro less than a year ago.
Audiences Foraines : A symbolic launching of the ‘Audiences Foraines’ started in two towns, Ouragahio (centre west) and Ferkessedougou (north) at the beginning of October 2007 and it has now spread to other towns. Although the process is moving slowly, the IEC confirmed that 2,923 birth certificates have been issues out of 3, 204 requests received so far. Only 17 teams were operating out of the 25 that were initially commissioned. The Prime Minister indicated that the success of this project would determine the strategy of launching the ‘Audiences Foraines’ throughout the whole country. The actual process of the ‘Audiences Foraines’ was scheduled to commence on 01 October 2007 but, due to technical, financial and logistical challenges, this was not possible. The program is only designed to issue birth certificates to residents without ID.
Implementation of the Ouaga Peace Agreement : It is now almost seven months since the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement was signed and the implementation is far behind schedule. The main challenges are the issues of the redeployment of state’s representatives back to the North and other former FN controlled areas, the appointment of the prefects and the finalisation of the DDR process. These processes could not commence without proper offices, accommodation, strict supervision and guarantee of security to officials and civilians. The government is waiting for the World Bank/IMF to release funds to fully implement some of the activities, especially the ‘Audience Foreign’ and the DDR process.
Whilst it is clear that the Ouagadougou Agreement is behind schedule, the international community still believes that the Ivorians should be given a chance to implement the peace process. All the programs are running late but the Prime Minister assured the nation that as soon as the ‘Audiences Foraines’ process is running smoothly, all the other programs would be fast-tracked. There is also a factor of ethnicity that always defines the politics in this country. Despite the presence of over 9,000 UN forces (UNOCI) in Cote d'Ivoire since 2004, due to ethnic conflicts there has been hundreds of thousands of displaced Ivorians in and out of the country as well as driven out migrants from neighbouring states who worked in Ivorian cocoa plantations.
The military/security situation in Côte d’Ivoire continues to be calm, which is an indication of the good working relationship between the Generals of the two armies (General Mangou and General Bakayoko). In the Forces Nouvelles Capital of Bouake, the problem that is being experienced is the increase in the number of checkpoints and the toll-fee that motorists have to pay. In the Forces Nouvelles town of Bouna (Notheast), there were sporadic attacks and clashes between the soldiers of the FN and the local youths. This was as a result of misconduct by the FN soldiers at the checkpoints in the town. Although the security situation in Abidjan could be described as calm, the crime rate has increased at an alarming rate, especially car hijacking and violent house break-in. The diplomatic community has also found itself to be a target of the car hijackings and house break-ins. The illegal roadblocks/checkpoints which are manned by members of the security forces are also on the increase in Abidjan.
Redeployment of the administration in the former rebel-held north :
According to the information provided by the National Committee for the Redeployment of the Administration, at least 156 prefets and sub-prefets including their assistants have returned to the posts located in the zones under the control of the former rebel movement. The problem currently being experienced is the lack of houses and offices to accommodate the Prefets. The houses and offices that are available are those still be occupied by the Forces Nouvelles Zone Commanders, who are refusing to vacate these premises. The provision of transport (especially 4x4’s) is also a big issue since roads are not well maintained and it is difficult to access most of the towns. The Prefets also raised a question of their security since they do not trust the Forces Nouvelles soldiers. The Prime Minister had a meeting with the leadership of the soldiers of the Forces Nouvelles during the week of 15-19 October 2007 in Bouake. All the zone commanders were present at this meeting. The Prime Minister stressed the need to support the Ouagadougou peace process especially the holding of the “audiences foraines” in the Forces Nouvelles-controlled areas.
Elections : The date of the elections has not yet been announced. President Gbagbo indicated that he is ready to go for elections during the first quarter of 2008 using the 2000 voter’s roll. This 2000 voter’s roll is currently under dispute as the IEC has issued it for comment by all political parties and the opposition has complained that this voter’s roll has been tampered with as all the names of individuals who come from the North are now missing from the list. The IEC has indicated that, at the earliest, elections could be held at the end of 2008. Considering that the identification process is far behind the schedule, it is likely that the elections will be held towards the end of the next year. All parties have started with their campaigns to strengthen their bases, especially the RDR that recently experienced exodus of its senior members.
The Integrated Command Centre (ICC): The ICC, a unit created by the Ouagadougou Agreement to handle the military issues of the peace accord has no capacity and is not operating according to the requirements of the peace process. A report on the situation of the ICC was recently issued and states that the ICC that has been entrusted with the DDR and the formation of the new army would probably fail in its mission because of a lack of funds. The managers of the ICC have so far not been able to get the budget that the centre needs for its optimum operation. The report also mentioned a lack of buildings to accommodate the various services of the ICC. The government is facing a daunting challenge regarding the total integration of the FANCI (National Army) and the FAFN (Forces Nouvelles) into a strong united army. The delay in the integration of the security forces and the DDR process are opening a gap that is being exploited by the criminals. Cases of banditry are on the increase in Abidjan and on the main roads leading to the neighbouring countries.
Promotions and rank issue : Since the mass promotions of high-ranking military officers during the National Day celebrations this year, the impasse between the Forces Nouvelles and the FANCI regarding the issue of the ranks of the Forces Nouvelles still remains. The government has not yet found a common ground with the Forces Nouvelles to solve the pending issue of ranks of the former rebels. According to the recent statement by Mr Sidiki Konate (Spokesperson of the FN), he indicated that politicians should not use the military ranks of the soldiers of the New Forces as a pretext to sabotage the peace process. Due to the sensitivity of this issue and the difficulty in finding a solution acceptable to both armies, this problem was given to the Facilitator (President Blaise Compaoré) to resolve. The Facilitator has yet to find a solution to this problem. The issue of the ranks cannot be ignored and if this is not closely checked, it could reverse all the gains that the Ouaga agreement achieved so far.
The appointment of the new SRSG (Special Representative of the Secretary General) : The country and the leadership have accepted the appointment of Mr. Choi Yougn-Jin, a South Korean diplomat as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General. There has been a leadership vacuum and uncertainty within the UNOCI since Mr Pierre Schori (the previous SRSG) left Cote d’Ivoire in February 2007.
The recent two rounds of United Nations-sponsored talks between Morocco and the Frente Polisario on Western Sahara were positive but they could not be described as negotiations, given the two sides largely rejected each other's views, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report on the issue.
Mr. Ban says "we now risk entering a protracted stage of negotiations and status quo" on Western Sahara, with more direction needed from the Security Council before any substantive negotiations can begin.
The UN-led talks between Morocco and the Frente Polisario, which contest Western Sahara, took place in Manhasset, just outside New York, in June and again in August.
The Secretary-General writes that the fundamental positions of the two sides were mutually exclusive and so it prevented them from seriously discussing each other's proposal during the talks.
"As a result, the parties did, indeed, express their views and even interacted with one another, but they mainly did so by rejecting the views of the other party, and there was hardly any exchange that could in earnest be characterized as negotiations," he states.
Morocco 's position is that its sovereignty over Western Sahara should be recognized, while the Frente Polisario's position is that the Territory's final status should be decided in a referendum that includes independence as an option.
Although the August talks ended with agreement that the status quo was unacceptable and that the talks process should continue, a mutually acceptable date for the next round has not yet been set.
Mr. Ban says his Personal Envoy on the issue, Peter van Walsum, has reminded both parties that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."
The acceptance of this principle by Morocco and the Frente Polisario "could be the key to the beginning of genuine negotiations, as it would encourage them to discuss proposals with elements that are unacceptable to them."
In an April resolution, the Security Council called on the parties to enter into negotiations "without preconditions in good faith."
Mr. Ban recommends that the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), which has been in place since September 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between the two sides, be extended for another six months until 30 April next year.
He also encourages the parties to work with MINURSO to directly cooperate and communicate with each other on areas of mutual concern such as mine clearance.
In addition, the Secretary-General welcomes the fact that exchanges of family visits between Western Sahara and refugee camps in the Tindouf area of neighbouring Algeria have continued without interruption in recent months.
"I am encouraged that the parties have also agreed in principle to the expansion of the programme, and that seminars and a new round of registration will take place in the months ahead," he says.
A delegation of EU MPs visited the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in South Africa on Friday 19 October 2007, and after meeting to discuss the issue agreed it was better to invite Mugabe and engage him on the crisis in Zimbabwe, rather than snub him altogether.
The EU delegation was headed by Michael Gahler and PAP was represented by legislator Marwick Khumalo. At a joint press conference Friday they revealed that EU-Africa MPs will be meeting a day ahead of the heads of state summit in December, and hoped to influence the leaders to meet Mugabe and offer to discuss his problems.
The EU and PAP parliamentarians are the latest addition to a growing list who believe engagement is a better alternative to the decision made by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has insisted he will not attend the summit if Mugabe is invited. Brown said it was important to take a strong stance against the abuses of the Mugabe regime.
However, countries that see the importance of a EU-Africa Summit are committed to ensuring that the Summit does take place with the participation of President Mugabe.
October sees Aung San Suu Kyi being in detention for 12 years.
The South African government supports the efforts by the international community, including those of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari to facilitate dialogue in Myanmar that would bring about a resolution to the country’s challenges.
We welcome the fact that Paolo Sergio Pinheiro, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said he will be allowed by the Myanmar authorities to visit the country on 17 November.
He intended to leave for Myanmar soon after the visit of Ibrahim Gambari, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General, who was due in the country the first week of November. Mr Gambari was currently in South-East Asian countries to encourage the Governments there to help resolve the crisis in Myanmar.
The mandate given him by the resolution of the special session of the Human Rights Council on Myanmar, he said. The mandate basically concerned the recent crisis in the country. His task was to offer “an honest and objective picture” of the crisis, including its immediate origin, the excessive use of force by the military, the fate of detainees and the number of casualties, and then to offer some recommendations to the Human Rights Council.
Mr. Pinheiro said that he did not know how many people were still in detention. He said: “I think the situation of fear prevails. I don’t think repression has eased.”
He also believed that detentions were continuing. “What annoys me is that the repression had not stopped in a single moment, despite the universal appeal by the Human Rights Council, and the statement of the President of the Security Council (document S/PRST/2007/37 of 11 October).”
In answer to another question, he said he did not want to put the lives of people he might meet at risk. The Secretary-General would seek to ensure that he would be given full cooperation.
Under-Secretary-General, briefing Security Council, tells of deep concern over palestinian situation, amid intensive political dialogue
The past month had seen the most intensive political dialogue on the Middle East in years, although there was still deep concern over the situation on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council on Wednesday 24 October 2007 during his periodic briefing on the region.
He said bilateral talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority had continued and both had tasked their teams to work intensively on a framework document for a serious and substantive exchange during the upcoming international meeting. In those efforts, they had been strongly supported by the Middle East diplomatic Quartet (the United Nations, United States, European Union and the Russian Federation), which had met with the League of Arab States Follow-up Committee in late September.
At the same time, he said, the Palestinian Authority was rapidly developing its reform and development plan to serve as the basis of a funding package for a donor conference scheduled for Paris to help fill a fiscal gap anticipated in 2008. It had also continued its efforts to improve law and order, but faced challenges to its planned deployment of security personnel and other initiatives.
Meanwhile, he continued, Israel’s Government had said 24 roadblocks and one checkpoint in the West Bank had been removed, while the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had reported that the total number of obstacles to movement stood at 562, down by 1 from the previous reporting period. Israel had also issued permits for some 3,400 family reunions in the West Bank -- out of a total of 54,000 pending cases -– and released a further 86 Palestinian prisoners.
Mr. Pascoe expressed hope that more such confidence-building measures would be forthcoming and strongly encouraged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to enhance cooperation on security, freedom of movement and economic rejuvenation, in close cooperation with the Quartet representative.
However, socio-economic conditions in the West Bank remained a serious concern and could be exacerbated by further planned restrictions, he said. Israel’s construction of the barrier continued, as did settlement activity, which contravened the Road Map and the Fourth Geneva Convention. In addition, strong complaints had been lodged about an order for the confiscation of almost 300 acres of Palestinian land for an alternate road network in the West Bank.
At the same time, 4 people had been killed and 69 injured due to internal Palestinian violence resulting from the continuing factional divide, he said. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas continued to disagree, with the former insisting on a reversal of the latter’s measures of the last four months and Hamas indicating its opposition to the dialogue between President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert. Hamas continued to clamp down on rival factions, leading to sometimes heavy clashes and allegations of human rights abuses. Such allegations had also been made against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
In Israeli-Palestinian violence, meanwhile, he said, 31 Palestinians, including one child, had been killed and 153 injured, while one Israeli had been killed and six injured. Two hundred Palestinians had been detained by the Israel Defense Forces, with one prisoner dying from injuries sustained in a prison riot. Israeli army Corporal Gilad Shalit was in his seventeenth month of captivity.
He said 27 rockets and 90 mortars had been fired at Israeli targets from Gaza and one standard Grad rocket had been launched at the city of Netivot, as the Israeli Government claimed that weapons continued to be smuggled into Gaza. Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continued to condemn all acts of terrorism, as well as all military acts targeting, endangering or harming civilians due to their disproportionate or indiscriminate character.
On humanitarian aspects, he said that, because of Israel’s decision last month to designate Gaza a hostile territory, the situation there was deteriorating alarmingly. In June and July, about 100 truckloads of humanitarian goods had been entering Gaza daily; today that number was around 50. Last month, a daily average of five critical medical cases had crossed Erez into Israel for essential medical treatment, compared to an average of 40 in July. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Palestinians remained stranded in Egypt and one of the two crossings remaining open for humanitarian goods was slated to be closed towards the end of the month. It was difficult to see how security concerns could justify the hardship caused by those measures.
The situation within Palestinian refugee camps in the country remained precarious, with occasional armed clashes between Palestinian militias. Tangible improvements in camp living conditions were urgently needed and donors were urged to continue providing vital financial assistance for urgent humanitarian needs and reconstruction.
Turning back to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said the Secretary-General strongly backed current diplomatic efforts and hoped that an international meeting to deal with the substance of a permanent peace would have broad Arab participation, produce positive results and lead to a serious follow-up process. He encouraged the parties to be bold in reaching understandings on core issues and committing to a clear process, and called for urgent efforts by the parties to build confidence and improve the situation on the ground.
Mr. Pascoe also recalled that the Secretary-General had pledged that the entire United Nations system was committed to doing its part to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. However, he regretted the continued division of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and feared it would become harder to overcome the longer it was left unaddressed.
During the reporting period, he said, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had reported 142 Israeli overflights of Lebanese territory, which constituted serious violations of Security Council resolutions and undermined the credibility of both UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces in the eyes of the local population. Israel continued to state that its air violations were aimed at countering other alleged breaches of resolution 1701 (2006), including violations of the arms embargo.
Iran 's newly-appointed top nuclear negotiator has met European Union officials in Rome over Tehran's nuclear programme.
Saeed Jalili's and his predecessor, Ali Larijani – who resigned over the weekend – took part in Tuesday's session in Rome and said Iran would continue negotiating with EU representatives.
"Negotiation and co-operation is our basic approach," said Jalili.
"The course that we'll continue will be the same trend that he [Larijani] has pursued in this period of time."
Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, described the meeting as "constructive" and said more talks would probably be held by the end of November.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
25 October 2007