Notes following Media Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre, 120 Plein Street, Cape Town, Wednesday, 14 November 2007

IRPS Cluster Briefing re: Progress on the Implementation of the Plan of Action

Consolidation of the African Agenda

Strengthening the African Union

We have been working consistently to strengthen the African Union.

Following the decision of the July AU Summit to conduct an institutional audit of the AU Commission, a high-level Panel was constituted to conduct the audit. The 13-member panel includes Dr Frene Ginwala, former Speaker of the South African National Assembly. The Panel held its first meeting from 10-15 September 2007 in Addis Ababa and discussed the broad scope of the audit. The Panel is expected to complete its work within four months and to submit its report and recommendations to the January 2008 Summit.

This audit is important because it will review the institutions of the African Union and make the necessary assessment on whether any changes need to be made. South Africa will be deeply involved in this process.

The nomination process for Commissioners of the African Union is still continuing and the SADC region will finalise its proposed candidates in due course.

On the whole, matters relating to the consolidation of the African agenda are progressing smoothly.

Progress with respect to the SADC Regional Economic Agenda

The SADC Summit, which was held from 16-17 August 2007 in Lusaka, amongst others considered the Report of the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Integration on the review of the implementation of the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA). It was noted that there is considerable basis for declaring the SADC FTA by the time of the 2008 SADC Summit, which will be hosted by South Africa.

This does create a sense of urgency with regard to government, the private sector, trade unions, and others to put forward their views.

 Engagement with the African Diaspora

You are aware that the African Union had declared the African Diaspora the 6 th region of the African Union. South Africa, with the AU, has played a leading role in organising Regional Consultative Conferences (RCCs).

Since the last Reporting Cycle Regional Consultative Conferences (RCC) were held in Barbados (27-28 August 2007) Paris (11-12 September 2007) and Ethiopia (15-16 October 2007). Many of the RCCs held thus far have highlighted the issue of reparations for slavery and the transatlantic trade. The overall view expressed was that the AU and CARICOM governments need to develop mechanisms to ensure that primarily Europe, Canada and the US address the issue of reparations appropriately. It was also recommended that an AU-CARICOM International Reparation Commission comprising both government and civil society representatives be established in order to produce scientifically researched and credible options for reparations.

South Africa will host a Ministerial African Diaspora Conference in Midrand from 16-18 November 2007. The Ministerial meeting will review recommendations from the RCCs and prepare for the African Diaspora Summit to be hosted by South Africa in 2008.

This is therefore a very important process that will culminate in a very important meeting.

The NEPAD Project Conference

The Department of Trade and Industry, DFA and the NEPAD Business Forum hosted the Nepad Projects Conference at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, from 8-9 October 2007. The Conference’s objective was to strengthen the partnership between business, government and civil society in the implementation of NEPAD projects. The Conference made significant progress in addressing a number of NEPAD priority areas, in particular governance, socio-economic development and trade and economic growth. Specific attention was paid to resolving critical concerns around energy, capacity building and infrastructure development on the continent and in aligning South African development strategies to those of the region.

African Peer Review Mechanism

South Africa has been peer reviewed.

Following the endorsement of the South African Programme of Action (POA) at the AU Heads of State in July 2007, a national workshop was convened in Pretoria on 10 September 2007, which involved South African Government Departments, Civil Society and the business community. The workshop sought to map out ways to implement the Programme of Action and to identify the key stake holders in each of the implementation phases. In order to strengthen the strong partnership character of the POA, four working groups consisting of government, civil society, business and Chapter 9 & 10 institutions were established in order to take the work forward.

The DPSA is the line function department is responsible for this matter. The Minister has just been in Algeria where a review on the 5 countries who have thus far been reviewed was conducted.

 9 th African Partnership Forum

The 9 th African Partnership Forum (APF) took place in Algiers, Algeria from 12-13 November 2007 under the theme “Governance and Development”. The 31 st NEPAD Steering Committee meeting emphasised the need to utilise the APF Forum to push developed partners to undertake a comprehensive review of the fulfilment of the commitments and pledges made to Africa under the auspices of the Gleneagles and Kananaskis Summits.

Africa-EU relations

The 9 th Africa-Europe Ministerial Troika Meeting was held in Accra, Ghana on 31 October 2007. The draft Joint Africa-Europe Strategy was considered at this meeting with the aim of having the strategy adopted at the 2 nd Africa-Europe Summit to be held in Lisbon during December 2007.

This will be preceded by a Ministerial meeting in Egypt from 4-5 December 2007 to which I will lead the South African delegation. We will attempt to resolve any outstanding issues at this meeting.

There is no longer a debate on who will participate in this Summit. It has been accepted that all countries in Africa and Europe will be invited and those who want to attend will do so. There are many important issues to be discussed and those who are participating will engage in these discussions.

Zimbabwe

We believe we have been consistently working to meet the mandate handed out to South Africa at the Extraordinary SADC Summit earlier this year. This mandated President Mbeki to facilitate talks between all roleplayers. South Africa is happy with the progress that has been made.

This is reflected by the unanimous acceptance by all relevant stakeholders in Zimbabwe, of the Constitutional Amendment Bill No 18, which seeks to harmonise presidential, parliamentary and local government elections as from 2008. South Africa will continue to facilitate dialogue between the Government and opposition parties, including representatives from civil society in order to resolve the remaining challenges facing Zimbabwe leading up to the 2008 general elections. Our primary focus remains ensuring an outcome that expresses the free will of the people of Zimbabwe as a critical element of opening avenues to tackle the serious socio-economic crisis.

We are confident that many of the other outstanding issues that are being discussed will be successfully resolved to ensure free and fair elections are held in 2008.

We are focusing on ensuring an outcome that will determine that the free will of the people of Zimbabwe is expressed and that avenues to tackle the socio-economic challenges will be found.

You are aware that our Finance Ministers met on the fringes of the IMF meeting in Washington and since then they have met in Zambia where they further reviewed the report by the SADC Executive Secretary on the economic situation in Zimbabwe and what SADC can do to help the Zimbabweans emerge from this crisis.

All the Finance Ministers have now returned to their capitals and after consultations with their capitals they will determine the next step.

South Africa is quite happy with the progress being made in the Facilitation efforts and we think even if there are some difficulties, the process has been placed on the right track.

SOUTH-SOUTH CO-OPERATION

2 ND IBSA Summit

South Africa hosted the 2 nd IBSA Summit on 15-17 October 2007. The IBSA Forum is gaining a lot of momentum. We will intensify our co-operation through a number of trilateral MoUs/Agreements that were signed in the following areas: Public Administration, Higher Education, Health and Medicines, Social Development, Cultural Co-operation, Wind Energy and Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement on customs Matters.

We do believe that India-Brazil and South Africa represent three important economic players in three important continents and this Forum can become a very strong base for South-South relations.

3 rd South Africa- China Bi-National Commission

The 3 rd Session of the South Africa-China Bi-National Commission was held in Beijing on 24 September 2007. Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka led the South African delegation.

We believe this has opened up possibilities through which to intensify South Africa – China relations and through this Africa – China relations. There have been many reports in the media of China’s interests in Africa. We have no such concerns of any re-colonisation of Africa by China and we are beginning to increase our overall interaction with China on a developmental paradigm. We are confident that the Chinese commitment to a developmental agenda is secure.

South Africa and China agreed to co-operate in the commemoration of the 10 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2008. This will be a major occasion that will see the consolidation of China – South Africa and therefore China – Africa relations.

Also high on the agenda was the proposed SA-China Partnership for Growth and Development (PGD), continued support by the Chinese for ASGISA and JIPSA, as well as the overall work being done by the government on Poverty Alleviation. Ongoing good co-operation was highlighted in a number of areas, including agriculture and education. An Agreement was also signed on Co-operation in the Field of Minerals and Energy, as well as an MOU on Co-operation in Human Resource Development.  

NORTH-SOUTH CO-OPERATION

European Union

Following the adoption of the SA-EU Joint Action Plan (JAP) for the implementation of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership, t he first full meeting of the Ministerial Troika since the establishment of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership was held in South Africa on 10 October 2007. The Meeting focused on the review of the SA-EU Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement (TDCA), as well as its implementation.

G8

The G8 Summit held in Heiligendamm, Germany on 6 -8 June 2007 agreed to establish a follow-up mechanism, the Heiligendamm Dialogue Process, which involves the +5 Outreach Partners ( South Africa, India, Brazil, China and Mexico). This Process will constitute a high-level dialogue lasting two years and dealing with four themes agreed to by the G8 and the +5 Outreach Partners.

As part of its preparations, the +5 Group met in Mexico on 12 August 2007 at Ministerial level on the margins of the UN General Assembly to devise strategies for effective engagement with the G8, the Heiligendamm Dialogue Process, and future collaboration within the +5 Group, taking into account the need to reflect and represent the broader views of the South. South Africa is challenged to effectively articulate its policy positions on the thematic issues put on the agenda, i.e. Energy, Climate Change, Investment and Intellectual Property to ensure maximum benefits from the engagement within the +5 and the G8.

PARTICIPATE IN GLOBAL GOVERNANCE

Participation in the 62 nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

President Mbeki led a high-level South African delegation to the 62 nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 24 September 2007. The theme for the 62 nd Session was “Responding to Climate Change”. We think it was very successful.

France, as the President of the Council, convened a special Summit on Peace and Security in Africa. Both the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Dlamini Zuma, participated in a series of meetings on the margins of the General Assembly and high-level segment of the UNGA that involved issues of both bilateral and multilateral nature respectively.

A number of issues, which remain challenges to the international community, were highlighted during UNGA62. These include the following: Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) - particularly Iran, the Middle East Peace Process, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the effects of Climate Change, African Peace and Security issues and the strengthening of multilateralism (Details are contained in the attached Report). There was general consensus that the reform of the UN, including the Security Council, had to be followed through. Member States also expressed sentiments that a reformed, stronger UN is necessary to strengthen multilateralism and co-operation.

As you are aware, one of the fundamental pillars of our domestic and foreign policy is poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

In the period under review, South Africa has intensified its efforts to achieve the objectives of this pillar. We seek to do so in a period of unprecedented globalisation, the benefits of which have eluded the vast majority of countries of the South.

Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable Development

You will recall that the historic UN Millennium Summit in 2000 declared that “we believe that the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world’s people. For, while globalization offers great opportunities, at present its benefits are very unevenly shared, while its costs are unevenly distributed. We recognize that developing countries and countries with economies in transition face special difficulties in responding to this central challenge. Thus, only through broad and sustained efforts to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity, can globalization be made fully inclusive and equitable.”

This has been driving our cluster to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. What we must ask ourselves as we enter the mid-point to 2015 is what has been achieved?

What has been achieved?

The President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, in October 2007:

“Globalisation offers incredible opportunities. Yet exclusion, grinding poverty, and environmental damage create dangers.

In 2000, the countries of the United Nations established 8 Millennium Development Goals – ambitious targets to halve poverty, fight hunger and disease, and deliver basic services to the poor by 2015.

These aims of sound social development need to be combined with the requirements for sustainable growth, driven by the private sector, within a supportive framework of public policies.

Globalisation must not leave the “bottom billion” behind. Inclusive globalisation is also a matter of self-interest. Poverty breeds instability, disease, devastation of common resources and the environment. Poverty can lead to broken societies that can become breeding grounds of those bent on destruction and to migrations that risk lives.

Globalisation has also brought uneven benefits to the billions.”

This is significant because South Africa, since the Millennium Development Summit in 2000, has been very active in seeking to ensure we achieve the MDGs. Clearly, as Mr Zoellick has indicated, it does not look like sub-Saharan Africa will meet these goals.

Zoellick, significantly highlighted some of the needs of the developing world that would contribute to the achievement of the MDGs.

Consider some of the needs:

Every year, malaria strikes some 500 million people worldwide. Yet we could get close to overcoming this leading killer of African children. It would take an investment of approximately US$3 billion a year over the next few years to provide every household vulnerable to malaria with treated bed nets, medicines, and modest amounts of indoor insecticide.

The International Energy Agency estimates that developing countries will need about US$170 billion of investment in the power sector each year over the next decade just to keep up with electricity needs, with an extra US$30 billion per year to transition to a low carbon energy mix.

An additional US$30 billion per year is needed to achieve the MDG of supplying safe water to 1.5 billion people and sanitation to the 2 billion people who lack these most basic necessities, also improving gender equality in poor countries.

There is a need for another US$130 billion a year to meet the transportation infrastructure requirements of growing developing countries, including an estimated US$10 billion a year for maritime container terminals to accommodate opportunities in trade.

And to provide primary education for some 80 million out-of-school children, another Millennium Goal, low-income countries will require about US$7 billion per year.

Do the developed countries have the political will to ensure that these resources required will indeed be provided? The record and our experience to date has not left much room for optimism.

The South African government fully agrees with the comments by the UNSG, Ban Ki Moon at a conference in Chile last week who said that “what is most important at this time is to have strong political will and strong leadership. We have the resources, we have the technology, we have all the theories, but what we lack the most is political will.

An implementation gap exists between promises and delivery.”

The UNSG last week said: “Seven years ago, world leaders made an inspirational and visionary decision, adopting the MDGs. They gave us a clear, time-bound blueprint in the form of the MDGs. We’re just past the midpoint this year to reach the Goals by 2015. The world’s scorecard is mixed.

If we go to Africa, particularly in the sub-Saharan region, there is not a single country in the sub-Saharan [region] that are on board. Millions of children die every year before they reach their fifth birthday. And malaria and AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases are taking their worst toll on countries that can least afford it.

And in many cities in developing countries, more than half the population lives in slums, with little or no access to basic services.

I think that clearly, we are facing an emergency, and in this emergency situation we need an emergency response, collective and emergency actions…

The 2015 target is a goalpost that can never be moved. The clock is ticking louder and louder every day. To reach the Goals on time, we have to take concerted action now.

The Secretary-General has once again highlighted that the developed countries make numerous commitments which they fail to implement.

The Secretary-General estimates that not one country in sub-Saharan Africa will meet all the MDGs. Our own view is that this is an objective we must strive to meet and even if we do not fully meet all the MDGs, we must meet the MDGs related to halving poverty by 2015, ensuring we halve the number of poor people by this date.

It is a major challenge and we would once again reiterate our call to the developed countries to assist us to do more to ensure we successfully move towards implementing the MDGs.

As the UNSG has said, we will never make headway in achieving this if we do not have the political will.

We are aware of our tasks and duties but we do not have the necessary resources as identified by the World Bank to really make a decisive impact on underdevelopment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our interaction with the world, is to deal with this “emergency situation “, which demands “collective and emergency actions” and demands that the developed countries meet their commitments.

Climate Change

Today it is increasingly accepted that Climate Change is intrinsically linked to poverty alleviation and sustainable development. AU studies indicate that Africa will suffer the greatest negative consequences of climate change.

Important negotiations on Climate Change will take place in Bali, Indonesia, early in December 2007.

It is clear that we need a significant advance in the multilateral negotiations if we want to build a more inclusive, flexible and environmentally effective climate regime under the United Nations. New initiatives and agreements such as those recently proposed by the US - are welcome, as long as they feed into the multilateral system and are not aimed at displacing it. We engage with countries outside of the Kyoto Protocol regime, especially the USA, to ensure that they are dynamically involved in shaping the post-2012 agreements.

The second major pillar of our international relations cluster is peace and stability:

SUDAN

The South African government remains concerned about the situation in Darfur. We have briefed you about the talks that took place in Libya and we are now seeing further splintering of the rebel groups. There are some 16 rebel groups that have splintered from the 3 groups that existed a year and a half ago.

The Darfur Peace Process consists of three phases. Phase I encompassed the opening, the plenary sessions and the statements of position that led directly into the current Phase II, made up of consultations and workshops in preparation for direct negotiations. Those would occur in Phase III, which has been planned for about 4 weeks from now.

Phase I was significant in that it presented the first time that the parties were meeting face to face since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in May 2006. There was consensus that dialogue was the only way forward and that there was no military solution to the conflict.

There were seven rebel groups represented by high-level delegates, including the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

Among the absent factional leaders, were those who rejected the process outright, including Abdul Wahid el-Nur. AU and UN envoys are in discussions with him.

There were some leaders who wanted to come to Sirte but had certain pre-conditions, others who could not attend for logistical reasons. A joint UN-AU mission arrived in Juba to consult with those who could not attend and would also be going to El-Fasher in Darfur.

The second phase of consultations including the issues of compensation, wealth-sharing, security arrangements, ceasefire monitoring arrangements, governance and power-sharing, etc.

It is the South African government’s view that the Security Council has warned that anybody who is an obstacle to the process must except to face the serious consequences of actions by the international community.

South Africa will again call on those who did not attend to ensure that in the interest of peace in Darfur in particular and Sudan in general that they attend the talks and we hope that the Security Council, who took a decision to act against those who act against the interest of the process, to take the necessary measures.

This is very necessary because there is no military solution possible.

 Ban Ki-Moon Warns Against Delays in Deployment of Hybrid Force

The hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission to the war-torn Darfur region (UNAMID) still lacks critical transport and aviation units and the Sudanese Government has not responded yet to the UN-AU submission on the force's composition, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, warning that delays to deployment will only exacerbate the humanitarian situation.

We must therefore increase our interaction with all sides to ensure that the hybrid force can be operationalised as previously agreed by the end of December 2007. We will again call on the more developed countries in the UN to provide the heavy support package.

In his latest report on UNAMID, Mr. Ban said the combination of the delays and the recent spike in security incidents across the western Sudanese region has left Darfur "at a crossroads."

He urged Member States which can do so to contribute the missing transport and aviation capabilities for the mission, which is expected to have more than 25,000 troops and police officers at full capacity.

"Without these critical units, the mission will not be able to implement its mandate," he writes.

The Secretary-General also called on the Sudanese Government to cooperate concerning the acquisition of land, the approval of flight operations rights for UN aircraft and the composition of UNAMID so that the force can be quickly introduced.

"This force composition is predominantly African," he noted, in line with the Security Council resolution earlier this year establishing UNAMID, "and provides for a force that would meet United Nations standards and would be capable of deploying in a timely manner."

Mr. Ban said the start of peace talks last month in neighbouring Libya between some of the numerous Darfur rebel groups and the Sudanese Government "represents a unique opportunity to achieve a definitive end to the suffering of the people of Darfur," adding that the talks were the first phase of a multi-part process to obtain a political solution.

The complexity of deploying a hybrid force in Darfur is highlighted by a far reaching interview by General Agwai.

His main problem, General Martin L. Agwai says in this interview, is the high expectations which UNAMID faces. He spoke to allAfrica in Cape Town, where he was addressing a seminar at the city's Centre for Conflict Resolution.

Darfur Peacekeeper Warns of High Expectations

When the new African Union-United Nations hybrid force for Darfur (Unamid) deploys at the end of the year, its commander expects to have only half the 20,000 troops planned for. Moreover, while he needs a minimum of 30 to 38 military helicopters for his task, right now not a single country in the world has pledged even one.

To a very large extent it's a very tough job. What makes it even tougher is the high expectations, especially when people hear about the hybrid force. A lot believe that by December 31 we'll have a hybrid force that will help provide security for the IDPs (internally displaced persons) and also some of the refugees and then they'll be able to go back home. That is the expectation… in the IDP camps, in the international community and among the humanitarian agencies.

I don't even have 6,000 troops on the ground. What we have is just a little bit above 5,000… If you look at the mandate, it was initially an observer mission, to observe the peace agreement [the Darfur Peace Agreement of 2006], to make sure that people were conforming to what they accepted. It was a small mission to… verify any ceasefire violation. But today people expect that small mission even to provide security for civilians, when it cannot even provide security for itself. So that is the first challenge, the numbers.

Second, if you have been to Darfur, you will find that there are no roads, there are no means of communication. In the rainy season, when it rains there is no way you can even go out on patrol because the whole area is flooded, the wadis are flooded. We don't have the right vehicles to go into such terrain… Even by air, by helicopter, the shortest distance [to an AMIS camp] is 30 minutes by helicopter. If you try to do it on a good smooth day by road, it's about 3-1/2, four hours. If you want to go… to Malha in the north by helicopter, it's 2-1/2 hours.  So these are these are the types of distances we are talking about.

Then there is the issue of water. [From] some of our camps, you have to go over five kilometres just to get water for our own forces, not helping anybody else.

To crown it all, there's not only the issue of numbers, but what is the agreement in the DPA? If you want to investigate a ceasefire, you have to invite all the stakeholders. Remember, some of the stakeholders are not signatories to the DPA. How do you get all the people that don't agree to now agree to go and investigate a ceasefire violation?

The mandate has to go with the force level and the equipment. In the hybrid force we hope to have military utility helicopters. Then you can take more risks, you can give orders to military pilots, because that is what they are trained for.

What do we have now? Because of the rules that the civil pilots have to observe… there are a lot of things we want to do that we can't. We hope that this new force will have those. And if we do then we will be able to protest ourselves, we'll be able to protect the UN and AU resources and personnel, we'll be able to provide a degree of security to the humanitarian agencies and we'll be able to provide at least area security for the locals that will give them some confidence to be able to start thinking of going home.

The minimum, not the ideal but the minimum… [is] 18 utility helicopters, and about 12 to 18 combat helicopters that can go to do reconnaissance and other things. As of today, there is no country in the world that has volunteered to give us that capability – zero. And that's why I am saying that by December 31 there are lots of expectations, but the reality on the ground is different…

You must have heard about the attack we had on our camp in Haskanita [on September 30], when we lost 10 of our peacekeepers. After the attack we wanted to go to the area… to move the injured. It took us about eight hours because the civil pilots couldn't take the risks… If we had military helicopters, we would have been able to arrive there much, much earlier, and we may have been able to save maybe one or two lives.

On force contribution:

I cannot tell you who has agreed to contribute to the Hybrid Force. As a force commander it is not my prerogative. It is the AU and the UN headquarters that get pledges and then they consider [offers], using their own parameters, to come up with a force.

But one thing is clear… it has to be a tripartite agreement – the AU, the UN and the host country, Sudan. Until those three agree, you can't have a force, and as of now, I don't think there has been an agreement. So apart from the current force we have on the ground, there is nothing new.

That's why I keep saying that expectations are far away from the reality. For example, going by the mandate of [Security Council Resolution] 1769, by the end of August we would have known the troop-contributing countries. We are in November – we don't know. So we are already running far behind this plan. That's why I keep on sounding a warning on expectations, expectations.

By the 31 st December, I think we should be talking about somewhere within the region of 9,000 or 10,000, out of 20,000.

Well, at the moment there is no peace to keep, and that is where the dangers and the difficulties come. But I'm very optimistic that we may have some deals. But it will take time… People have to exercise a lot of patience… I am not expecting that next week, or by the end of this year, or by the end of November, there will be a peace deal. But I believe that by and large, with time, we'll be able to get the groups together to broker a peace.

However, we still have a role to play in Darfur with or without a peace deal: humanitarian services; security – protection of invalids, the elderly, women and children, especially with the stories you hear – some of them are the realities – of women going out to fetch firewood and being raped, and children being attacked.

On materials needed:

We need a lot of armoured personnel carriers (APCs). AMIS is a donor-driven mission – countries donate equipment that the troops are using. Under UNAMID, the UN system [will apply]… a country comes with its own equipment and the UN leases the equipment.

So we hope the countries that are coming will meet the UN standard. For example every battalion is supposed to come with a minimum of 18 APCs. If they cannot, I hope that a third country will be able to assist those countries. So hopefully, when UNAMID takes off fully, we will have a force that will be able to perform much better than the AMIS force.

On the “prospect of failure”

I know there are ups and downs but [one has] to be focussed, have your strategic goals, [move] towards them and be flexible when there are difficulties, which there are bound to be. What one has to guard against is first to allow any difficulty that will dampen the morale of the men… You do it by training… even in the mission area, we still keep them training, updating themselves, being dynamic enough to move with the situation on the ground.

On my part, my consolation is that I believe the world which decided to give me the job will come to my aid when I dearly need it, [to help] me achieve the goal that they have set for me.

Message to the people of Darfur

I want them to know that we have some limitations but even with those limitations we will do the best to provide them with the limited security that we can. But with time, as the force settles in and enlarges, we'll be able to provide them with minimum security and create a conducive atmosphere for them to be able to go back home.

But I also want them to talk to their leadership. They must realize that there is no military solution to the problem of Darfur. Since there is no military solution, they must come to the conference table, have a dialogue. Splitting their movements into several further groups will not solve the problem.

The leadership must compromise and come together, for the interests of the children, for the interests of the young ones, and even those unborn so that they can have a future… And if they compromise and have a peace deal that we can monitor, that we can verify, that we can keep for them, then they will have a country, they will have a home for every one of them and we will get over this very quickly.

SOMALIA

Somalia continues to represent a challenge with which we are involved.

On 27 October 2007, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Prime Minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, resigned his post. This followed period of struggle between the Somali Prime Minister and its President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. Former Prime Minister Gedi, a Hawiye and President Yusuf from the Darod clan, clashed over the balance of powers between the Presidency and the office of the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Gedi believed the Presidency was a figurehead position, while President Yusuf said that he was the Head of State with full powers. They come from rival clans, which in turn brought Somalia's long clan struggles and suspicions into the heart of the Federal Government.

The resignation threw the TFG into further disarray, in particular with regard to its struggles against the Islamic insurgency, which has now intensified. Former Prime Minister Gedi maintained that he was stepping down for the good of the country as continued bickering does not augur well for the reconciliation. On 11 October, 22 Ministers signed a letter demanding a vote of no confidence in the government, accusing Gedi of incompetence and the TFG of failing to deliver on its mandate, particularly the drafting of the Constitution, the holding of census and setting up of functional regional Governments.

Professor Salim Aliyow Ibirow was appointed acting Prime Minister of Somalia by President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. Ibirow, a former professor at the Somali National University, is in his early 60s and was both Gedi's deputy and Minister of Education. He will preside over a caretaker Cabinet until a new Prime Minister is appointed within 30 days as stipulated by the interim constitution. Parliament is expected to debate whether the Prime Minister could be appointed from outside Parliament. Currently, any potential Prime Minister must be an MP

While the disarray within the TFG has dampened the political mood, efforts to continue with the national reconciliation process are ongoing. On 05 November 2007, legislators in the southern Somali town of Baidoa engaged in heated debates regarding a proposal to implement into law decisions signed at the conclusion of the country's first-ever National Reconciliation Conference (NRC) in August 2007. A Parliamentary Subcommittee tasked with reviewing the NRC documents issued a written statement to the Somali Parliament highlighting four major points: i) the subcommittee argued that the NRC was a clan-based meeting, "not a national convention," as detailed in the NRC documents; ii) the NRC decision that the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet can be selected from outside of parliament is a decision solely for the Somali Parliament to debate and ratify; iii) the NRC organising committee's term in office expired in August 2007 when the NRC convention ended; iv) the fourth point categorically dismissed a clause in the NRC documents stating that a "ceasefire" is in effect throughout Somalia following the conclusion of the clan-based NRC convention.

Given these four points, Parliament was opened for debate with lawmakers expressing opposing views on the issues. The most contentious issue at present however remained the clause calling for an amendment in the law so that President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed can appoint a non-MP to the post of Prime Minister. Not surprisingly, those who argued against the amendment are former Prime Minister Gedi’s supporters.

On the security front, Somalia continued to plunge into instability. Thousands more civilians fled their homes and more than 30 people were killed after some of the worst fighting - between Islamist insurgents and allied Ethiopian-Somali government troops - Mogadishu has seen during the month of October and early November. The three districts of Hodan, Hawl-Wadag and Wardhigley [south Mogadishu] were most affected by the latest fighting. Fears of a major military offensive have sparked a further civilian exodus from the Somali capital Mogadishu. The deputy chairman of the Eritrea-based Somali opposition group, Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, Zakaria Mahamud Abdi, warned that well armed rebels are prepared to step up attacks against Ethiopian troops in the city.

On 12 November 2007, local elders and civil society leaders called on the international community to help stop the carnage in Mogadishu that has left hospitals overwhelmed and many streets filled with bodies since the intensification of fighting from 08 November 2007. It is estimated that over 200 people have perished, and between 500 and 700 wounded since 08 November 2007.

An upsurge of fighting in Mogadishu in recent days has displaced some 90,000 residents from their homes, adding to the exodus of 400,000 inhabitants in earlier bouts of fighting. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 450,000 people have been displaced by fighting this year, bringing the total number of displaced persons in Somalia to more than 850,000 including about 400,000 displaced since the civil war began in the 1990s. Overall, 1.5 million people in Somalia are in need of assistance and protection, marking a 50 per cent increase since the beginning of this year.

The AU and UN are increasingly concerned about the humanitarian challenges. We will continue to argue for a political solution because there can be no military one. The crisis in Somalia is based on clan violence. We must argue for an inclusive solution.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also reported that another 24,000 Somalis have had to flee Mogadishu in the past week because of the deadly fighting.

At least 51 civilians were killed and another 30 were wounded last Thursday and Friday alone, OCHA said in a statement, and an estimated 114,000 residents of Mogadishu have left the city this year. In total, some 850,000 people are now internally displaced across Somalia.

OCHA warned that the grave situation was being made worse because the fighting had seriously curtailed the movement of humanitarian workers. Many of the people fleeing Mogadishu in recent weeks are now living in rudimentary roadside settlements and nearby villages, placing great strain on the resources of those communities.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said "civilians are more than ever bearing the brunt of the fighting in Mogadishu. I appeal to all those with guns, whether Government, insurgent, or Ethiopian troops, to refrain from indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks affecting civilians."

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, is holding meetings in Nairobi, the capital of neighbouring Kenya, with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Somalia and also civil society groups.

In recent days he has also met with Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf and Ali Mahdi Mohammed, the Chairman of Somalia's National Reconciliation Congress, to try to find a political solution to the crisis.

The worsening state of security in the Somali capital of Mogadishu has hindered the work of aid agencies trying to tackle the humanitarian catastrophe in the Horn of Africa country. International and national NGOs cannot respond effectively to the crisis because access and security are deteriorating dramatically at a time when needs are increasing.

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.

Addis Ababa officially recognises having about 4,000 soldiers in Somalia, where it is supporting President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed's government against Islamist rebels. But Somalis and regional diplomats say there are far more than that. Ethiopia has said publicly on numerous occasions it wants to pull out of Somalia, but will not leave until an African Union (AU) force is up to full strength. The AU approved a peacekeeping mission of 8,000 soldiers earlier in the year, but only 1,600 Ugandans have so far arrived in Somalia. Other African nations have made promises to send troops but logistical problems and the volatile situation has delayed the deployment of troops. The crisis in Somalia has also led to the perpetuation of a proxy war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which in turn undermines the resolution of the border dispute between the two countries thereby sparking fears of regional war and instability in the Horn of Africa region.

UN Peacekeeping Mission Not Realistic or Viable, Says UN Secretary-General

Deploying a United Nations peacekeeping operation to Somalia is not realistic or viable given the war-wracked African country's security situation, the intensifying insurgency and the lack of progress towards any political reconciliation, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

In his latest report on the situation in Somalia, Mr. Ban writes that conditions are so dire that it has not even been possible to send a technical assessment mission to the country.

"Nevertheless, a strategic assessment of United Nations interventions in Somalia has been initiated, with a view to providing an integrated approach and framework for United Nations engagement in Somalia," he says, including in maintaining support for the existing African Union Mission to the country, known as AMISOM.

"Given the complex security situation in Somalia, it may be advisable to look at additional security options, including the deployment of a robust multinational force or coalition of the willing.

"Such a force could initially be small and self-sustaining, growing over time with the achievement of specific security and political milestones. In due time, such a force could be built to a level that would enable Ethiopian forces [which are in Somalia to support the fragile Transitional Federal Government] to commence a partial, then complete withdrawal from the country."

Mr. Ban stressed that the UN continues to conduct a two-track approach to Somalia, by encouraging dialogue between the TFG and opposition groups with the aim of producing a cessation of hostilities and the creation of broad-based and inclusive public institutions, and by strengthening AMISOM to the point that would allow Ethiopian forces to withdraw and the emergence of some stability.

Former PM 'Ready to Mediate' Between Govt, Opposition

Somalia 's former Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said on Sunday 11 November 2007 that he is "ready to mediate" between the country's Ethiopian-backed transitional government and a Somali opposition alliance based in Eritrea.

"I am not a member of the opposition but I am always eager to seek peace in Somalia," Gedi said during an interview.

He said he is even willing to visit exiled Somali opposition leaders in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea.

Gedi called on Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf to stop making major decisions alone and urged him to seek genuine reconciliation and fairness.

The former Somali premier appealed to the armed groups opposed to Yusuf's government to accept peace and seek compromise.

It is not clear what the opposition thinks of Gedi's offer, fully aware that he has led the transitional government since its formation in 2004.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

The governments of South Africa and the DRC have an agreement to utilise trilateral co-operation mechanisms to address the financial and technical challenges affecting the implementation of identified bilateral projects; and to co-operate on the critical issues of the Security Sector Reform and on gender equality. In the context of the significant requests for assistance in human resource capacity building, it was agreed that the refurbishment of the DRC National School of Public Administration be prioritised as to allow this institution to serve as the central point for capacity building and the training of civil servants in the DRC. Agreement was also reached on the hosting of a Congolese Diaspora conference in South Africa to encourage the return of skilled people to the DRC. An agreement on the establishment of a Reporting Matrix in order to facilitate the tracking of progress on the implementation of projects was also finalised.

The situation in Eastern DRC remains volatile. South Africa will continue to encourage dialogue and co-operation amongst the countries of the region, especially DRC and Rwanda as the basis for a sustainable solution. Closely linked to this, is the need for continued enhancement of the capacity of the armed forces of the DRC to secure its territorial sovereignty. In this regard the ongoing support by South Africa to the initiative of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) should be enhanced.

The South African government welcomes the announcement that Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have reached an agreement that will see the latter disarm and expel genocidal forces, grouped in what is known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

The deal was reached on Friday 9 November 2007 between Foreign Affairs ministers from the two neighbours in Nairobi, Kenya, at a ceremony that was facilitated by the UN and witnessed by the US and the European Union.

'The Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo commits to launch military operations, as a matter of urgency, to dismantle the ex-FAR/Interahamwe as a genocidal military organisation in the DRC,' a joint communiqué signed by among others, Rwanda's Foreign Affairs minister Dr Charles Murigande and Congolese State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi, reads in part.

DRC agreed to prepare a detailed plan to disarm the militia, while the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC) agreed to 'provide support to the planning and subsequent implementation consistent with its mandate and capacities.'

The plan will be shared with the Rwandan government by December 1, the communiqué added.

The plan, according to the statement, shall include 'reactivation and streamlining, in parallel with military pressure, existing efforts to sensitise ex-FAR/Interahamwe elements to disarm and repatriate to Rwanda.'

The agreement also provides for 'temporary relocation of disarmed ex-FAR/Interahamwe elements to reception centres/cantonment sites in DRC; registration by Monuc under the DDRRR procedures and repatriation of those who choose to return to Rwanda.'

Under the planned disarmament plan, DRC - with the help of relevant international organisations - agreed to move disarmed ex-FAR/Interahamwe who do not wish to return to Rwanda and who are not wanted for Genocide by Rwandan justice or the International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), away from the border until their condition is normalised.

The meeting came after Rwanda reacted to DRC's plan to disarm FDLR, which Kigali said was lacking, and for which it provided a counter-proposal.

Rwanda committed itself to 'take all necessary measures to seal its border to prevent the entry into or exit from its territory of members of any armed group, renegade militia leaders, (General Laurent) Nkunda's group in particular, and prevent any form of support - military, material or human - being provided to any armed group in the DRC.'

Kigali also agreed to share with Kinshasa and Monuc a list of Genocide suspects, where as DRC committed itself to arrest and hand over to ICTR or Rwanda those indicted for Genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

They two states also agreed to refrain from statements in support of any armed group against each other.

"Both countries agreed to meet in Nairobi as a way of reaching an agreement on the disarmament plan.

We feel, if honoured, the agreement will help deal with the problem that has been at the centre of insecurity in the region," President Paul Kagame's Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Ambassador Richard Sezibera, said yesterday.

And asked if he thought the development demonstrated DRC's commitment to addressing the FDLR issue, Dr Sezibera said: "There is a renewed commitment not only on the part of Congo, but also on the side of those who witnessed the agreement.

Monuc was asked to be more involved in (military activities) against FDLR, which was previously not the case."

The two countries also agreed to 'fully commit (themselves) to prevent the direct and indirect support - political, material or human - to any national and foreign armed group operating in the DRC.'

They also agreed to share information and address issues of common concern through existing mechanism, in particular the Joint Verification Mechanism (JVM) and the Tripartite Plus Commission. The pact also binds both countries to 'immediately assign the members to the JVT in Goma, Bukavu (in DRC), Gisenyi and Cyangugu in Rwanda.

Both countries also committed themselves to establish strict border controls and prevent illicit cross-border movement of combatants or recruits, arms, military material, food or medical support for any armed groups.

They further agreed to refrain from aiding and abetting any armed group.

The pact also calls upon all Congolese associated with the ex-FAR/Interahamwe to 'leave the group immediately and definitely.'

International partners were also called upon to mobilise support to help implement the agreement, and to provide humanitarian assistance to civiliansthat are likely to be affected by the planned military operations.

The signatories also urged the Security Council to pass a resolution establishing sanctions against Ex-FAR/Interahamwe and called upon member states to 'prevent all fundraising, mobilisation or propaganda activities of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe.'

Other signatories to the bilateral meeting are the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affaires, Haile Menkerios, the EU Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Roeland van de Geer, and the US Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer for the Conflict Resolution Department of State, Timothy Shortley. The South African government believes that the agreement between them on a common approach and immediate, concrete steps to carry it out marks a significant breakthrough.  This approach offers an opportunity for the comprehensive resolution of the fundamental problems posed by irregular armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It is also an important step towards restoring peace and security for the populations that have suffered for so long.  The Secretary-General reiterates his calls on all irregular groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to lay down their arms, and seize the opportunity for a normal life.

The South African government welcomes the fact that the agreed steps includeactions to fight impunity.  We urge both Governments to act urgently to implement all the agreed measures and calls upon their international partners to support these efforts and to increase humanitarian assistance to respond to the dire situation on the ground.  The South African government welcomes the commitment of the UN to support both Governments in their implementation of their common approach, and to help ensure the protection of civilians.

BURUNDI

South Africa has been dealing with this matter since the Presidency of Nelson Mandela.

The South African government remains very concerned that the intransigent position of the Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People- Forces for the National Liberation (Palipehutu-FNL) remains the main, and last, obstacle to peace in Burundi, and continues to prevent the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM) from implementing the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement (CFA).

It is our view that the Palipehutu-FNL has not shown willingness and commitment to implement the final stages of the CFA, even after various efforts by the Facilitator, Minister Charles Nqakula and the Special Representative to the Great Lakes, Ambassador Mamabolo, to deal with the impasse that has developed. We cannot get the Paliphehutu-FNL to move genuinely and decisively towards solving this impasse.

The Palipehutu-FNL continues to raise issues that are not part of the CPA, including an insistence that the current Burundi army must be dismantled, and that Cabinet and Senate positions in government must be granted to them before they will finalize the implementation of the CPA.

Over the last two months it has become clear that there is a large split in the Palipehutu-FNL, with approximately 2,700 additional peace combatants leaving their combat positions in the bush and reporting to make-shift transit camps inside Burundi, which has signalled their readiness to be included in the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) process, in accordance with the cease-fire agreement.

This is creating a humanitarian crisis because the international community did not envisage having to deal with such a large force breaking away from the Paliphehutu-FNL and join the processes.

This has created a two-fold crisis. Firstly, a security situation where violent confrontations have erupted between the pro-peace and the anti-peace factions, which has led to numerous deaths. The ex-combatants have occupied areas that were not agreed upon in the JVMM, and this makes them vulnerable to attack. Secondly, there is a growing humanitarian situation where the additional 2700 ex-combatants are technically outside the stipulations of the peace agreement and are thus not being included in the DDR process, and are not being assisted with shelter or food.

The facilitation team has received a mandate from the Regional Initiative (Uganda and Tanzania) to try and assist in providing humanitarian assistance to the additional ex-combatants of the Palipehutu-FNL, and to try and convince donor countries that this is indeed an excellent opportunity to cement peace in Burundi by assisting these ex-combatants and so preventing their return to the bush as combatants of necessity.

We urge the international community to respond to these humanitarian challenges.

Politically, the challenge is how to proceed with the implementation of the ceasefire including the integration of these additional ex-combatants into the Burundi government’s security structures without the exiled Palipehutu-FNL leadership participating in the processes. The Facilitator, Minister Charles Nqakula has consequently requested the Regional Initiative to consider convening a Regional Summit that will receive a progress report, to review the mandate given to the Facilitating Country, and to deliberate on the way forward.

We think this the only way in which to proceed in Burundi. The demand of the Paliphehutu-FNL and the criticisms against the Facilitator, Minister Nqakula has now been changed to criticisms against our special envoy and we think this is just an excuse to delay progress in the negotiations and we do not think the international community should countenance this any more. All the countries have done a lot to bring the Paliphehutu-FNL into the process and now, all the countries must put pressure on them to ensure they must join the process or face the actions against them.

MIDDLE EAST

The 11 th November 2007 saw the third anniversary of the death of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

The South African government condemns the violence that resulted in the deaths of at least 7 people. More than 100 others were reportedly wounded on Monday after gunfire erupted at a rally where hundreds of thousands of people were commemorating the death of Yasser Arafat.

Three days of mourning have now begun across the Palestinian territories.

Those responsible for the violence are working against the interests of the Palestinian people and should be brought to justice.

Middle East Peace Process

As part of his diplomatic push to revive the peace process, President Bush announced plans for a Middle East Peace Process Conference. No date has been set yet for the Conference. It was to have been held in November but it is clear it will not take place. There is some suggestion that it will be held in December.

The Arab League has supported the holding of the Middle East Peace Conference and emphasised that all stakeholders should participate. The Arab League has also indicated that there should be real outcomes and it should not just be a meeting for the sake of having a meeting.

The Palestinian authorities have requested that South Africa be invited to participate in this Conference. We have yet to receive an invitation but if invited, it is expected that President Mbeki will attend this meeting.

In the latest round of talks held on 10 September 2007, the Palestinian National Authority’s President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert agreed to set up negotiating teams to work on key issues of disagreement, that include water and energy, ahead of the Conference.

However, the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, namely the borders of a future Palestinian state, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the disputed city of Jerusalem still have not been tackled.

PRESS CONFERENCE ON SITUATION OF PALESTINE RELIEF AGENCY

 Without significantly more resources, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would not be able to continue its work and deliver the quality of basic services that refugees were entitled to, said UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd at a Headquarters press conference last week.

Ms. AbuZayd expressed the hope that, this year, Member States would back a three-year extension of the UNRWA mandate, increased funding for the agency, and the creation of 10 new posts for the current biennium.

“Considering the scale of our responsibilities under normal circumstances and the additional burdens we are bearing at present in several fields, we believe our request is modest and entirely justified”, she said.

She said that UNRWA assists about 4.5 million people in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.  Among the “additional burdens” being placed on the Agency were the negative repercussions of recent punitive measures taken by Israel, in particular, the tightening of restrictions on movement and access into and out of the Gaza strip.

Those restrictions were increasing humanitarian distress levels in the region and diminishing supplies of much-needed food, drugs and other medicines, she said.  She gave examples of their effects, among them a 71 per cent decrease in goods going into the Gaza strip since May -- 253 trucks per day entering the region in May, compared with 74 trucks per day currently.  There was now zero stock in 91 different drugs, she added, compared to zero stock in 61 types of drugs just last month.  There were also reports that primary health care clinics were out of paediatric antibiotics and there was a shortage of chronic disease drugs.

In terms of nutrition, Ms. AbuZayd said that 80 per cent of the population in Gaza was now living on World Food Programme or UNRWA rations.  “It’s very basic rations of flour, oil, sugar, and a bit of lentils and powdered milk.  It’s not good enough,” she said.  “UNRWA rations, in fact, only give 61 per cent of the day’s nutritional value.” 

“Something needs to be done to make up for these decreasing supplies and the continually decreasing economy of Gaza”, she continued.  Increased donations from Member States and an increase in funds coming from the United Nations regular budget were necessary to help UNRWA assist the populations in need.

The Agency was currently operating with a budget deficit of more than $90 million and the deficit was expected to be $112 million next year. 

She noted that financing for the Agency comes from various sources.  Five per cent of its income comes from the United Nations regular budget, and is used to cover staffing costs.  Funding from major humanitarian donors, such as the United States, the European Union, and the Scandinavian countries, was helping UNRWA to cover basic services, like primary healthcare, primary education and basic social services.

Meanwhile, Arab States such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were donating funds to help cover the costs of some infrastructure projects to improve the living conditions in refugee camps.  Those States were increasing their funding for more general services as well.

“It’s the additional things which we don’t consider luxuries - we consider them necessities - that are creating this large deficit over the last couple of years”, she said.  Improving the deteriorating conditions of the refugee camps was a major part of what was not being funded.

For its part, Ms. AbuZayd said, the UNRWA needed to improve its management capacity to plan, monitor and evaluate its work, and to improve its fundraising capabilities and its ability to explain its work to the rest of the world.  Those improvements were at the heart of UNRWA’s current organizational development plan. 

Asked about the rebuilding of the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp, Ms. AbuZayd said everyone was working as fast as possible but that rebuilding could take a few years.  In the meantime, UNRWA had built new temporary housing and was providing rental subsidies to refugees.  They had launched a $55 million appeal for those efforts and already $20 million had been pledged.

The Commissioner-General was also asked about the impact of recently released video footage which seemed to show rockets being launched from an UNRWA school in Gaza.  She said violations of UNRWA installations had happened in the past and her Agency had complained many times to both sides about those incidents.  She added, “I think the powers in Gaza right now will try to do something.  They are willing to try to protect the UNRWA installations.  They know they need to protect our presence in Gaza.”

In closing, Ms. AbuZayd said she looked forward to the upcoming conference in Annapolis, Maryland, as an event which could perhaps move the whole process forward and provide relief to the refugee population which was “shattered, generally, about what’s going on and losing any hope for the future and for their children”.

The current situation, especially in the Gaza strip, was not moving the region closer to peace.  “We’re losing the fight to those who are on the extreme end of the groups in Gaza”, she said.  “They’re the ones that are benefiting from this isolation and this continual squeeze on Gaza and its economy and on the people of Gaza.”

NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION

Iran and the IAEA

The IAEA released its latest report on the “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran” on 30 August 2007. Although the Agency was able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, it remained unable to verify certain aspects on the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. To work on the remaining issues, Iran and the IAEA agreed on 21 August 2007 to a “Work Plan” that includes timelines for resolving the outstanding matters. No resolution was tabled for consideration by the September 2007 IAEA Board of Governors meeting and a Chair’s Summary was adopted that noted the Director General’s Report and the Work Plan. Significantly, the Director General reiterated his call for a "double time-out" of all enrichment related activities and of UNSC sanctions that could provide a breathing space for negotiations to resume. The “Work Plan” is considered a positive step towards resolving the impasse. Nevertheless there are discussions amongst the P5 in the Security Council and Germany on a possible third resolution on Iran, possibly in November 2007.

Iran – EU Negotiations

Iran 's new top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili will meet with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana later this month to discuss Tehran's nuclear program. This follows talks held in Rome in October 2007.

 Both sides described the meeting in October as constructive, but no breakthroughs were made.

The South African government will continue to call on the Iranian government to meet their commitments in order to resolve outstanding issues with the IAEA. We will continue to ask the international community to continue with their negotiations and we hope that any “noise” of possible military action against Iran is just that, “noise.”

It is a matter of serious concern and we will continue to interact with the Iranians, with the region as a whole, the Arab League and the UN to see what we can do to contribute to fastracking this process within the IAEA to ensure there is no military action in the region. We believe this will be negative and impact on peace and security throughout the region.

As you can see, the IRPS Cluster is seized with a lot of issues. We see some progress but we are happy the Cluster is functioning effectively and that the voice of South Africa is highly respected.

Thank you.

Questions and answers

Question           Deputy Minister Pahad, there are some reports that the President Mbeki discussed with President El-Bashir the acceptance by Sudan of some non-combatant troops (logistical units) from countries like Norway and Sweden, for instance?

Answer               In terms of the AU Peace and Security resolution and endorsed by the UN Security Council resolution, there is a general acceptance that the composition of the force should be African. Off course, if we cannot get the full component from Africa, then off course, we will look at other contributions.

There is an understanding and I referred to it: the heavy package in support of the forces which most of the African armies do not have, will be provided by other countries through the UN. There is some debate about offers coming from some countries and until we begin to resolve what offers have been made, what has been accepted from Africa, it will be very difficult to look at offers from outside of Africa.

This is work in progress and we are in discussions with the Sudanese government and continuing discussions at the Security Council. We are trying to quickly find some agreement on the composition and in the context of who has made what pledges and those that have been accepted.

We hope this matter will be resolved very quickly because as I referred to the interview of the general who will command the UNAMID, it is crucial that the three components – the UN, AU and the Sudanese government now finalise the agreement about the composition so that we can begin to move forward.

I have stressed quite consistently that this is an element of the larger problem: when you solve who will contribute what, then you must discuss how you will operationalise them.

Without the heavy support package from the developed countries, you will not be able to achieve that and that is why I think that our emphasis should now be on the developed countries to contribute to the heavy support package that they have promised.

We were assured that the earlier problems of logistics and the fact that the heavy planes that were bringing equipment for the headquarters could not land because of the tarmac in the area, has now been resolved. It has been agreed that those heavy planes will go to Khartoum and smaller planes will transport the equipment to the Darfur region. So, there has been some movement.

There have been offers from Thailand, Norway, Sweden and a few others in terms of specialized units. The feeling from many sources is that there are some possibilities from Africa and the pledges that have been made that we should investigate what has been pledged from Africa, before looking at other offers.

Question           Deputy Minister Pahad, on the issue of Burundi, I understand that the FNL was to have met with the Tanzanian Foreign Minister to discuss areas of concern. How far have they gone in this? How was this perceived by the Facilitator, Minister Charles Nqakula?

Answer               I am not sure why the Paliphehutu-FNL want to meet with the Tanzanian Foreign Minister. I hope that they were referred back to the Facilitator because they Paliphehutu-FNL have made their problems with the Facilitator public. We have responded to this to say that these are irrelevant criticisms. They must join the processes and participate in the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM) and in terms of the Comprehensive Agreement ascertain how they fit in once an agreement has been finalised.

I am not sure what they want to discuss and whether they indeed have held discussions with the Tanzanian Foreign Minister.

The Facilitator has talked to both the Presidents of Tanzania and Uganda who are the heads of the Regional Initiative and they fully support the Facilitator.

So if the Paliphehutu-FNL have specific problems, they should not attempt to divide the Facilitation team from other countries. They should come to report to the Facilitator.

All this will be resolved by the proposed regional conference that we hope will take place soon and that can only be called by the Presidents of Tanzania and Uganda.

The key problem is: are the Paliphehutu-FNL genuinely committed to finding a solution? It has been going on for too long – these parallel initiatives after the comprehensive agreements have been signed. They do not seem genuinely committed and are always trying to find excuses to delay the processes of coming to a final resolution.

There is nothing they can get outside of discussions with the Facilitation team who is working on behalf of the regional team so we would advise them not to waste their money which is largely subsidised by South Africa and to use their resources to participate in genuine negotiations.

Question           Deputy Minister Pahad, I’d like to know what is South Africa’s position on Pakistan?

Answer               We did not deal with this matter since it does not form part of the progress reports.

It is a new situation.

There has been a debate regarding whether martial law is also a state of emergency. We have expressed our view that this is a matter of grave concern to the region, to South Africa and indeed the Commonwealth which will have a Summit in a few days time. The Commonwealth has made it clear that if there is no return to democracy and preparation for elections as well as certain actions taken, then the Commonwealth will have no recourse but to suspend Pakistan from the Commonwealth.

We have noted that President Musharaf has committed himself to step down as a military leader and prepare for the elections in February 2008 as was promised. However regarding a constitution remains suspended, many people including the opposition leader Bhutto have been placed under house arrest and clearly the tensions are too great to resolve in this way.

We have to return to democracy, create the conditions for participation in elections a peaceful way. This is the only way in which to deal with the terrorist and extremist threats within Pakistan.

I want to repeat and we have never said we are not confident that the nuclear potential in Pakistan is not safeguarded. But, in such a volatile situation, this is an added concern and the South African government will again call on the Pakistani authorities who have made it clear that they are indeed taking care of these facilities to continue to do so.

We will through the Commonwealth Summit that will be attended by President Mbeki and the Ministerial meeting by Minister Dlamini Zuma further discuss this matter and ascertain what if anything can be done to help normalise the situation and return to democracy in Pakistan.

Question           Deputy Minister Pahad, could you confirm whether the APRM report was indeed presented to President Mbeki last week?

Answer               I do not think this report was presented to the President. I have been out of the country but I am sure it would have been public if so.

It has been accepted by the Heads of State, Minister Fraser-Moleketi was in Algeria last week to discuss the way forward. We have already had consultations with non-governmental structures – labour, business and other civil society members. I am assuming you could not have discussions with them unless you discuss elements of the report. So I would urge the relevant Minister to make this report public as soon as possible.

Question           Deputy Minister Pahad, is South African confident that Rwanda has not been helping General Nkunda in the eastern DRC?

Answer               Well, as you know, there is a committee chaired by the United States which involves the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi which deals with all these issues on a constant basis. We believe all these matters are discussed there. We have not had any concrete evidence given to us that the Rwandans are supporting General Nkunda. Notwithstanding this, we have continued to deal with all the countries to urge them to not support any breakaway groups. Support international efforts to create one army and we will continue to do this.

The latest agreement is very important because it has opened up the broad space for the region to move towards moving dealing firstly, with the Interahamwe. This then creates the climate to deal with any other forces that are disrupting the process. I think that we are all very happy that this agreement has been reached after a long while. Now our task is to use this agreement to deal with the totality and complexity of all the threats to the stability of the DRC.

If and when we get any evidence of Rwandan support which we do not have, we will deal with this matter bilaterally and multilaterally.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

 14 November 2007


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