Notes following Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre, Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Friday 23 March 2007

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

The South African government is deeply concerned about the outbreak of violence that has occurred in Kinshasa over the last 24 hours between the DRC national army and the security officials of the former Presidential candidate and leader of the opposition.

Mr Bemba has taken refuge in the South African compound from where he has called for a truce and MONUC is also arranging for the other former presidential candidate Ruberwa to be moved to an unspecified embassy.

MONUC is facilitating dialogue between all the forces to try to ensure that there is an end to the fighting and that the objectives of what Africa, and the world has worked for for so long, ie. to have peace, democracy and stability in the DRC is protected.

The South African government appeals to all the forces in the DRC to immediately cease hostilities and begin negotiations to allow the democratic processes to continue.

ZIMBABWE
South Africa welcomes the firm decision of the Zimbabwean courts demanding the release of all those detained and the subsequent releases. We also welcome that those injured have been allowed to leave Zimbabwe and travel to South Africa for medical treatment.

South Africa remains concerned about the continuing tensions and violence in Zimbabwe.

We remain convinced that the present situation is a reflection of the underlying political, economic and social problems in Zimbabwe and which the AU, SADC and South Africa have been engaged in trying to resolve.

We therefore again urge all Zimbabweans to respect the rule of law and not to take any actions that exacerbates the tensions which will make it difficult to implement the call for national dialogue and reconciliation proposed by the Reserve Bank Governor, Mr Gono.

It was quite evident that many of the parties in Zimbabwe including civil society welcomed this call for dialogue and national reconciliation and that violence in the last weeks should not delay these processes.

We also note the initiative of the religious leaders, "The Zimbabwe we Want," which is also intended to contribute towards a national dialogue in the country.

We believe the conditions are right for national dialogue to be escalated in order to find a long term solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.

The statement by the South African government has been criticised for not being strong enough, but this has not been followed by what is strong enough.

The ANC has also put out a statement on the situation in Zimbabwe, expressing its concerns and calling for all stakeholders to continue to seek peaceful and inclusive solutions.

You are also aware of the statement made by the Chair of the AU Commissioner, Mr Konare in which he "recalls the need for the scrupulous respect for human rights and democratic principles in Zimbabwe," and "urges all concerned parties to commence a sincere and constructive dialogue in order to resolve the problems facing Zimbabwe."

The AU Chairperson, President Kufuor who has been in London addressing the International Institute has also said, and I quote, "I want to tell you straight away that I know that the AU is very uncomfortable. The situation in (Zimbabwe) is very embarrassing."

He goes on to say, and I hope the media has noted this, I quote "I know personally that presidents like (South Africa's Thabo Mbeki) tried desperately to exercise some influence for the better … please don't think that Africa is not concerned. Africa is very much concerned. What can Mbeki as a man do? Are you proposing that Africa compose an expedition team to march on Zimbabwe and oppose? It does not happen like that."

"We are in our various ways trying very hard."

As you know, the Chairman of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, visited Zimbabwe where he briefed the Zimbabwean President on his recent visit to the Scandinavian countries and also discussed the internal developments in Zimbabwe. He will continue further consultations and it is expected that later this month there will be a Summit of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation in Dar-es-Salaam to discuss the regional situation including the situation in Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, on the fringes of the SADC Ministerial meeting, a meeting of the Double Troika was held. This meeting welcomed the efforts of President Kikwete and indicated we will give full support to any efforts he will now make, on behalf of SADC.

There has therefore been many activities that have been undertaken in the last few weeks under the banner of what the media calls "quiet diplomacy" and we call "constructive diplomacy."

I want to say that it is a matter of concern that the media is dealing with the situation in Zimbabwe with too much sensationalism. I will give an example: massive articles were run about 3000 Angolan ninjas being deployed to Zimbabwe without the facts being checked. There has been this tendency on many occasions to make generalised statements without checking the facts. When we attempt to verify this information we find these statements to be untrue although the public is already under the impression that these events are taking place.
There has also been a tendency to challenge the positions of the South African government while giving a lot of attention and credence to statements of governments other than ours without contextualising what Africa is attempting to do.

I want to reiterate: it is not our intention to make militant statements for the purposes of self-gratification or to satisfy governments beyond Africa. We are committed to dealing with this situation in a way that will enable us to encourage the Zimbabweans to find a Zimbabwean solution to their challenges.

As President Kufour said, if there are any illusions that we can send an expedition by force to Zimbabwe, such stupid suggestions should be rethought.

We will continue to deal with the situation in Zimbabwe as we have always done: constructively, bilaterally and through SADC and the AU to see what we can do to assist the Zimbabweans to find a solution.

There has been many ways to interpret what has been said by former President Kaunda. To assert that this is the first time such things are being said is not correct. Anybody will be able to see that all statements are saying the same things albeit without emotive language.

It is our view that the South African media must play a more constructive role in assisting us find a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.

We do not believe that it is the job of the South African media to give massive coverage to views of governments beyond Africa and to contrast it with the views of the South African government. We do not think this is helpful to finding a solution to the Zimbabwean challenges.

It is my view, that if outside governments had played a more constructive role from the earlier stages than we would not be in the situation we now find ourselves in.

It is our appeal to those who criticise us from afar, and of whom our media report quite eagerly, to work with us constructively to assist us find a solution.

There is a strong view in Zimbabwe, whether you agree with it or not, that the recent events have been orchestrated by external and internal forces that favour regime change in the country. I must say that sometimes, when I look at the way in which the South African media deals with this issue, I feel that the ultimate goal of the media is regime change in Zimbabwe. I do not say that I accept this view, but this is a strong view held by senior government officials in Zimbabwe. Foreign diplomats in Zimbabwe have been briefed of this by the Zimbabwean government.

Let's try to work together to see whether we can bring about the necessary conditions for the Zimbabweans to resolve their challenges in a way that is in the interests of all Zimbabweans, SADC and Africa.

SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT STATEMENT ON THE CURRENT SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE
The South African Government has noted reports emanating from Zimbabwe regarding the current difficulties being experienced by the political leadership in the country including the arrests, detention and reported assault of some opposition leaders.

"South Africa expresses its concerns about these reports as well as the deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe. In this regard, we are of the view that the current difficulties are symptomatic of the broader political and economic challenges facing Zimbabwe" said Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad.

"Accordingly, South Africa has consistently maintained and moved from the premise that only dialogue among the main political protagonists can help bring about a lasting solution to the current political and economic challenges facing Zimbabwe.

"In this context, South Africa will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with all parties in Zimbabwe in the political, economic, trade and social sectors to ensure the objective of dialogue among all political parties is realized" continued Deputy Minister Pahad.

"Pursuant to this objective, South Africa urges the Zimbabwean Government to ensure that the rule of law including respect for rights of all Zimbabweans and leaders of various political parties is respected.

"Similarly, we appeal to leaders of opposition political parties to work towards a climate that is conducive to finding a lasting solution to the current challenges faced by the people of Zimbabwe" concluded Deputy Minister Pahad.

ANC STATEMENT ON CURRENT SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE

The African National Congress is concerned about the current situation in Zimbabwe, including reports of the alleged assault of opposition leaders while in police custody.

The ANC trusts that a thorough investigation will be conducted into these allegations, and that any necessary action be taken in accordance with the law.
The ANC reiterates its call on all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to respect and uphold the constitution and law of the land, and work to safeguard the rights of all citizens.

We further reiterate our call to all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to continue to seek peaceful and inclusive solutions.

In line with the spirit and positions of the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC), the South African government should continue to seek to assist the people and leaders of Zimbabwe to address the challenges facing the country.

For its part, the ANC will continue to engage all parties in Zimbabwe in the effort to achieve an outcome that serves the interests of the Zimbabwean people. It will continue to do so in a spirit of respect, friendship and solidarity.

COMMENTS BY AFRICAN UNION

AU commission chief Alpha Oumar Konare "recalls the need for the scrupulous respect for human rights and democratic principles in Zimbabwe."

"He urges all concerned parties to commence a sincere and constructive dialogue in order to resolve the problems facing Zimbabwe."

The statement said that Konare had followed recent developments in Zimbabwe with great concern.

COMMENTS BY AU CHAIRPERSON JOHN KUFUOR

The chairman of the African Union, Ghanaian President John Kufuor, said this week that the organisation found the turmoil in Zimbabwe "very embarrassing." Tanzania's president travelled to Zimbabwe on Thursday for talks to try to defuse the situation.

"I want to tell you straight away that I know that the AU is very uncomfortable. The situation in (Zimbabwe) is very embarrassing."

"I know personally that presidents like (South Africa's Thabo Mbeki) tried desperately to exercise some influence for the better … please don't think that Africa is not concerned. Africa is very much concerned. What can Mbeki as a man do? Are you proposing that Africa compose an expedition team to march on Zimbabwe and oppose? It does not happen like that."

"We are in our various ways trying very hard."

He went on to say:
The African Union of which I am the current Chair, is really concerned about any trouble spots anywhere on the continent, and I want to say our concern is that in the spirit of the African Union, and especially NEPAD - the New Partnership for Africa's Development - we want the rule of law, more than any other way, to be the main agency of governance. Violence, beating up anybody and using brutal force shouldn't be the way forward. The rule of law, accountable government, allowing constitutions to work properly, should be the way forward for all of us. This is our approach.

Visit by Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation to Zimbabwe, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete
The president of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, one of three Southern African nations appointed by the Southern African Development Community to try to address the political crisis in Zimbabwe, met with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe last week.

The Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe announced, following the meeting between Presidents Kikwete and Mugabe in Harare last week, that SADC would meet in Dar-es-Salaam later this month to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe.

SOMALIA

Current Developments
We are extremely concerned about the escalating violence in Somalia.

Over the last few days the violence has intensified enormously, and at a time when the AMISOM forces who are mainly Ugandan have been deployed to Mogadishu.

AMISOM

On 21 February 2007, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed resolution 1744 to make provision for the deployment of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Pursuant to this resolution, on 6 March 2007, AMISOM peacekeepers began to arrive in Mogadishu. This represents the first batch of peacekeepers to land in Somalia since 1995 when the UN pulled out of that country. The peacekeepers, all of whom are from Uganda, are part of the planned 8,000 larger peacekeeping force to be deployed in Somalia as authorised by the UN to help the TFG assert its authority and to allow Ethiopian forces to leave.

Apart from Ugandan troops, Burundi has promised 1,500-1,600 soldiers; Nigeria 850; Ghana 350; and Malawi an unknown number. Algeria is helping to airlift the Ugandans while the United States is providing cash and logistics to Uganda, and France will help the Burundians.

According to the AU, the countries providing the troops are responsible for their command structures. "The AU was part of the Somali peace process and is providing guidelines, has signed agreements with troop-contributing countries and will facilitate bilateral meetings with partners," Ba said. "But the countries are responsible for their own command structures and deployment."

He said the main problem facing the operation was not troops, but financial and logistical challenges. "The attacks [on the troops] could force a review [of operations], but right now getting the troops in is not the problem because we have 53 AU member states."

The plan to deploy the AU troops has been welcomed by several countries and international organisations, including the United Nations, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealing to the international community to assist the AU in mobilising funds and other assistance.

The South African government is concerned that although the peace initiatives are welcomed and supported by the international community, this is often just verbal support and not supported by the financial and logistical support to ensure that forces on the ground can cope with the serious situation.

The South African government is concerned that AMISOM has come under attack in Somalia. It seems that increasingly calls are being made by Somali parties to increase attacks on AMISOM. On 7 March 2007, gunmen fired rockets and grenades at an AU armoured vehicle. No peacekeepers were wounded during the attack. Some groups have called on Somalis to fight AU peacekeepers arriving in Somalia. Ethiopians are also facing attacks in the war-torn Somalia. On 10 March 2007, a military convoy from Ethiopia was attacked in Lower Shabelle province while on its way to Mogadishu.

The Somali Deputy Defence Minister Salad Ali Jeele issued a statement, "that his troops are ready to fill a "power vacuum" in the restive capital, Mogadishu, with the help of African Union peacekeepers. Hundreds of Somali troops, who are part of more than 4 000 troops that finished their military training in Baledogle arrived in Mogadishu on 9 March. They will also be involved in disarmament operations in the volatile capital.

South Africa supports the Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon call for dialogue among Somalia's warring factions. The risk of renewed and prolonged insecurity, he said, would increase unless the TFG rapidly consolidated its authority and ensured stability and the rule of law. "An inclusive dialogue and a genuine political process are the only way to achieve a sustainable peace that denies dissatisfied groups a rallying point."

The semblance of order and security had begun to deteriorate in Mogadishu, with armed roadblocks, checkpoints, banditry and violence. The fall of the UIC had also brought to the fore some clan rivalries that had been suppressed, while the "true intentions and future influence of the former warlords remain to be seen. The [TFG] must reach out to key political and social forces in Somalia and engage in an inclusive dialogue."

"Those who renounce violence and extremism and pledge to constructively engage in achieving a sustainable political settlement in Somalia should be included in the process."

The fleeing of civilians from Somalia's strife-torn capital, Mogadishu, has also escalated over the past weeks, bringing the total number of those displaced from the city to nearly 20 000. Recently there was a mass exodus of Somali immigrants to Yemen, of which approximately 107 Somalis died trying to reach Yemen illegally.

SUDAN

This is another area of great concern for the South African government. As you know, the Human Rights Council is at the moment discussing the report of the Human Rights Mission to Sudan.

The Human Rights Mission Report

Underscoring the "solemn obligation of the international community to exercise its responsibility to protect," the report details the grim situation in Darfur, highlighting that killing of civilians remains "widespread," along with the systematic use of rape and sexual violence. It also makes recommendations to the Council itself, the Sudanese Government, the various armed rebel movements and the international community.
"The Government of the Sudan should cooperate fully in the deployment of the proposed UN-AU peacekeeping/protection force without further delay," the report states. "Sudan should end the targeting of civilians in Darfur, cease all support for Janjaweed/militia forces, and proceed with the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of such forces."
The mission also called on the Government to remove all obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the millions in need in the region. The UN says more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million others forced to flee their homes since 2003, while in total, some 4 million civilians need assistance to survive in Darfur, which is in the west of Sudan.
The report also calls on all armed rebel movements operating in the region to strictly observe and respect international law, and ensure the free and safe access and movement of humanitarian personnel. It also urges them to "cooperate in good faith" in the pursuit of peace.
In addition, it calls on the Security Council to take "further action" to ensure the protection of civilians in Darfur, including through the deployment of the proposed UN-AU force, while recommending that the Human Rights Council should help set up an independent national rights commission for Sudan "to address the grave situation."
The Sudanese government on Tuesday 13 March 2007 rejected as invalid the findings of a United Nations human rights mission that accused Khartoum of orchestrating and taking part in gross violations in Darfur.

Sudan's Justice Minister Mohamed Ali Elmardi also told the UN's Human Rights Council, which had dispatched the mission, that the humanitarian situation in Sudan's vast western region was "much more stable now".

"We therefore strongly and resolutely oppose any consideration by this esteemed council of any report that comes out of this mission," he said.

Report by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), other UN agencies and non-governmental partners said camps for internally displaced persons in the western Sudanese region of Darfur are almost at full capacity due to a continuing influx of people fleeing violence.

In North Darfur, As Salaam camp cannot take any more displaced people due to water shortages, while Abu Shouk has been closed to newcomers and Zam Zam is very close to maximum capacity, said the Sudan Humanitarian Overview for February.

According to the report, 30,000 people were displaced across Darfur in February, bringing the total number of people who have fled violence in the region since January to 80,000.

The largest displacements took place in South Darfur, where Sudanese government and militia attacks sent 25,000 into the bush. In West Darfur, 12,595 have been displaced, while North Darfur reported 11,500 displaced since January.

Sexual and physical assaults on civilians continue to be reported daily, and access restrictions, bureaucracy and targeted violence impede humanitarian operations.

According to the report, access for aid agencies in Darfur dropped to 64 percent in January and 20 percent of the affected people could not be reached by any humanitarian agency. "An average of 2.45 million people, 70 percent of the conflict-affected population, remain food insecure," it noted.

The report, however, noted that clashes between government and rebel forces had fallen in February compared with December and January, as had aerial bombings.

Humanitarian activities resumed in Tawilla and Khazan Tungur, North Darfur, but lack of sufficient safety guarantees delayed resumption in Gereida, South Darfur.

We have to act decisively to ensure we can have the UN hybrid forces on the ground as soon as possible to halt the humanitarian crisis on the ground.

UN- AU Forces

President El Bashir's reply letter to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki'Moon
On 6 March 2007, President El Bashir forwarded his reply letter to the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki'Moon:

"In our opinion, the most important aspect of the proposed United Nations Support Package is to re-energise and successfully accomplish the political process within the framework of the Darfur Peace Agreement. The political settlement of the Darfur problem, under the auspices and participation of both the African Union and the United Nations, is the best course of action, given the special nature and complexity of the problem. The political process must therefore be re-energised and accelerated as a priority.

I assured the two envoys (UN and AU) [of our] unwavering stance, full and unqualified support for the political process.

The efforts yet to be exerted must be protected from negative political interferences.

The Darfur Peace Agreement "DPA" is a framework and reference upon which the United Nations should found and deliver its proposed support packages.

Proposals that tend to amend, nullify or suspend any article of the DPA will not be acceptable as it may reopen discussions over issues that were previously settled with difficulty. As an exception, some aspects of the DPA could be revisited, subject to the outcome of the efforts made to enjoin the non-signatories within the framework of the Political process, an equally important part of the proposed support packages, and with the consent of all parties concerned.

The objective of the proposed support packages is to enable the African Union to carry on its tasks in accordance with the provisions of the DPA. Our understanding of the United Nations support packages it that the UN will provide technical, logistical, financial expertise and civil and military consultants with ranks below that of the military commander appointed by the AU. In phase three, the AU forces implementing that phase, in terms of control or command, must remain forces of the African Union, supported by the United Nations as per the two packages.

Paragraph 20 of the Final Report stated: "UN member States have indicated that full UN involvement in command and control would be a prerequisite for UN funding and troop contribution to the HSP."

The Communique of the 66th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council held in Abuja on 30 November 2006 clarified these matters in paragraphs
· 2b which reads: "The Force Commander, who should be an Africa, shall be appointed by the Chairperson of the Commission in consultation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations,"
· 2c which reads: "the mission shall benefit from United Nations backstopping and command and control structures and systems," and
· 2d which reads: "the size of the force shall be determined by the African Union and United Nations taking into account all relevant factors and the situation on the ground, as well as the requirements for it to effectively discharge its manate."
It is important that these matters be clarified.

My government is committed to continue supporting the humanitarian efforts and to extend all necessary and possible facilitations through an energised fast track, appreciating off course the positive roles undertaken by different organisations as well as the partners. Despite some conflicting humanitarian indicators with regard to malnutrition, mortality rates and the Final humanitarian situation in general.

My hope is that through the Tripartite Mechanism we would be able to harmonise the various features of the second phase of the UN support package to ensure consistency with the DPA, the Addis Ababa consultations and the outcome of the Abuja AU Peace and Security Council meeting. I propose that the Tripartite Mechanism also be tasked with specifying the format and content of Phase Three after finalising the implementation of Phase one and two. '

South Africa's position
South Africa reiterates its support for the re-energising of the political processes in line with the AU and UN objectives in the Sudan. In this respect, South Africa urges the rebel groups outside the DPA to adopt a common position in preparation for further talks with the GoS.

South Africa, in line with the AU and UN, supports the UN three-phased approach as agreed to in Addis Ababa by the GoS on 30 November 2006.

The African Union endorsed on 30 November 2006 a three-phased United Nations support to the African Union Mission in the Sudan:
· A light support package;
· A heavy support package; and
· A hybrid operation.

With respect to the hybrid operation the Council decided that:
· The Special representative shall be jointly appointed by the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, after appropriate consultations as per the practice.
· The Force Commander, who should be an Africa, shall be appointed by the Chairperson of the Commission in consultation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations;
· The Mission shall benefit from United Nations backstopping and command and control structures and systems; and
· The size of the force shall be determined by the African Union and the United Nations, taking into account all relevant factors and the situation on the ground, as well as the requirements for it to effectively discharge its mandate.

South Africa is concerned at the delays by the GoS in implementing the African Union and UN Security Council resolutions. The mandate of the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) is due to end on 30 June 2006 and that the funding for AMIS is also running dry.

The Tripartite Mechanism should meet urgently to resolve the different interpretations of the various AU and UN Security Council resolutions.

International Reactions
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
"I expressed my regret (about his reply) … that he made a number of reservations on ideas that were jointly proposed by the United Nations and African Union," adding that he had urged President El-Bashir to accept the proposals for the hybrid force.

"There is growing frustration among the members of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council … my Special Representative and the AU Special Representative are going to visit Sudan next week again."

"My own hope is that as we have been going through this political dialogue with the Sudanese government and even though the response letter of President El-Bashir was not a satisfactory one, now I'm in the process of making all diplomatic efforts, including AU leaders."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon accepted President El-Bashir's invitation to visit Sudan and said the details will be finalised through diplomatic channels.

United Kingdom: British UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry called the letter from the Sudan's President a major setback that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) needed to discuss. He said the letter was disappointing and tantamount to a requirement for a re-negotiation of some of the points in the package. Britain, as well as other European countries favour sanctions against the Sudan.

Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry also said that it was time to put pressure on Sudan because the letter from Bashir "amounts to a renegotiation" of earlier agreements: "I would put down a resolution on sanctions next week on that basis that I would expect to get it adopted."

China: China's UN Ambassador called on the Sudan's President to explain his reply letter to the UNSG. As far as China is concerned, on 30 November 2006 in Addis Ababa, the understanding was clear that all the Parties are committed to the Plan. However, from the Chinese perspective it seems that there are miscommunications and misunderstandings on the Sudanese part.

United States: Acting US Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said he had not studied the letter from President El Bashir but was not surprised at the initial indications of firm resistance and no progress. Wolff further said the US would see whether it was time to pursue further sanctions against the Sudan.

France: French President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday 20 March 2007 threatened Sudan with sanctions if the "crimes against humanity" in the war-torn region of Darfur continued.

"I say solemnly: if the attacks continue, if agreements are not respected, the (United Nations) Security Council will have no other choice but to adopt sanctions. We are already working on it," he said in a message read out during a meeting organised by French group Urgence Darfur in Paris.

"And everything must be done to ensure the UN and African Union forces can be deployed to Darfur," he added.

African Mission in Sudan (AMIS)


Like Somalia, we are also concerned that African forces in Sudan, AMIS have come under attack in Darfur. On 5 March 2007, two AMIS soldiers were killed and one was injured when forces opened fire on 4 soldiers. Since its deployment in 2004, AMIS has suffered eleven casualties. The situation in Darfur, particularly the implementation of the DPA as the implicated soldiers belong to the SLA faction led by Minni Minnawi who is the signatory to the DPA and the Senior Assistant in the Sudan Presidency.

On Tuesday 13 March 2007 Rwanda threatened to withdraw its troops from Sudan's Darfur region unless more resources are committed to the African peacekeeping force.

Rwanda has about 2,000 troops forming the backbone of the 7,000-strong African Union (AU) force in Darfur, which is facing a shortage of money and equipment.



Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, told reporters: "The AU ... is being overstretched in the sense that it has no capacity, no logistics, no funds and is facing weaknesses in coordination.


People are still dying, the rebels and government are still clashing," he said. "We have given our support, but there are no results on the ground."

The European Union (EU) which has provided most of the financing for AMIS appealed for wider international financial support for AMIS. It is reported that the EU's Special Peace Support Fund for Africa has run dry. An extra US$262 million is needed for the Mission to maintain its presence until the expiry of its mandate in June 2007.

It is clear that the international community cannot expect Africa to play its role in conflict resolution, and in this case conflict prevention and peace enforcement if the necessary assistance is not provided to the African troops.

Our concern is that although, quite correctly, much attention is being placed on Darfur, not enough attention is being placed on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)
On 10 March 2007, President El Bashir and his two Vice Presidents, Salva Kiir Mayardit and Ali Osman Taha, two Ministers of State in the Presidency and the commanders of the Joint Defence Board (JDB) held a meeting to review the work of the JBD. The meeting was briefed by the Head of the JDB, Wiay Deng who stated that the work of the JBD on security arrangements was progressing well as stated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), especially on matters related to the Joint Integration Units (JIUs). The only problem is the issue of outstanding financial entitlements to Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) troops in the JIUs.

The Presidency responded by urging the Sudan Ministry of Finance to resolve the issue as soon as possible and also called for better co-ordination between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLA. In addition, the Presidency called for the commencement of the training of all JIUs personnel within a period of one month. On the agenda for the next meeting are the issues of the Abyei border dispute and the other armed groups in the Sudan.

Further to its campaign to fight corruption, the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) on 10 March 2007 arrested the Director-General in the GOSS Ministry of Finance on the charges of corruption. It will be recalled that in February 2007, the GOSS Minister of Finance, Arthur Akuein, was accused of embezzling US$1 million. Retired Brig. Martin Malual, former Sudan Minister of Cabinet Affairs has also been arrested on similar allegations of corruption. The GOSS Legislative Assembly has resolved to establish committees to further investigate allegations against the Director General and Brig. Martin Malual.

On 6 March 2007 the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) launched a US$56.1 million appeal for its operation in Southern Sudan. The money will be used to assist with the return of more than 100 000 refugees from nearby countries, the resettlement of 25 000 internally displaced persons, the provision of reintegration packages to returnees, the rehabilitation of health clinics and schools in the region and the improvement of shelter and sanitation.

Sudan suspends links with International Criminal Court
Sudan has decided to suspend all co-operation with the International Criminal Court in response to its accusations that Sudanese officials were involved in war crimes in Darfur, the justice minister said on Sunday 18 March 2007.

"We had extended our cooperation with the ICC for some time, but now the situation is completely different," Justice Minister Mohammed Ali al-Mardi said from Geneva, where he was attending a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting.

"It's not even a question of co-operation anymore, it's a question that they (the ICC) want to try Sudanese citizens, which is absolutely nonsensical," the justice minister said.

BURUNDI

Developments in Peace Process


On 17th February 2007, 17 members of the core leadership of the Paliphehutu-FNL returned to Bujumbura. They will be sitting on the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM) and the Joint Liaison Teams (JLTs). The JVMM is the structure that oversees the ceasefire and the JLTs are subsidiary structures of the JVMM.

The first meeting of the JVMM was held on 19th January 2007. The Facilitator and Amb JNK Mamabolo were present, as were the representatives of AU, ONUB and the representatives of the Regional Technical Team (consisting of personnel from Uganda and Tanzania). The JVMM agreed on the establishment of six JLTs:
· JLT for the Release of Political and War Prisoners
· JLT for the Movement of Combatants from Locations to Assembly Areas
· JLT for Assembly Areas
· JLT for the Demobilisation Centres
· JLT for Human Resource Development
· JLT for Training.

The Facilitation has received donor support from donors:
· France has provided €150,000.00
· Belgium pledged €250,000.00 (post assembly period),
· The Netherlands has pledged +/-R20 million.

These funding contributions will assist with the establishment of the Assembly Areas, provide for welfare of the combatants in the Assembly Areas, and assist with the DDR process. A number of NGO's, IGO's and Government have indicated that they may assist once the combatants have moved to the Assembly Areas.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

Ouagadougou Agreement
A "Political Agreement" was concluded on 4 March 2007 in Ouagadougou between President Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro under the mediation of ECOWAS Chairman, President Blaise Compaore.

The South African government welcomes this decision and will fully support efforts to ensure the speedy implementation of this agreement.

The Ouagadougou Political Agreement on Cote d'Ivoire encapsulates elements of both UNSC Resolution 1721 and President Gbagbo's Five Point Plan with the latter seeking to address the following issues: national dialogue with the rebels; the disarmament and the reunification of the country; the cancellation of the confidence zone; creation of a National Civic Service; establishment of an Aid Program for the return of the displaced war victims.

The agreement contains elements aimed at paving the way for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1721 on Cote d'Ivoire, as follows:

Census of Population

The parties acknowledged the lack of a clear and coherent census as well as the lack of national document to attest the identity and citizenship of individuals. In this regard the following measures were taken:
· The re-launching of the itinerant public audiences for the establishment of birth certificates.
· The restoration of lost or destroyed births, marriages and deaths records.
· The organisation of the production of new IDs (National Identification Cards and Residence Permits).
· Identification on the basis of the new electoral list.

Electoral process

The parties in the direct dialogue repeated their commitment to the organisation of open democratic and transparent presidential elections in accordance with the Linas Marcoussis Agreement as soon as the identification process is completed. To this end the following point were agreed upon:
· The enrolment on the electoral list
· Publication of the electoral list
· Production and distribution of voter's cards
· Collaboration with organisations working in the electoral process.

Defence and Security of Cote d'Ivoire

The parties agreed to proceed with the unification of the two belligerent forces by creating an integrated operational structure that will implement the following:
· the creation of an integrated commandment centre to adopt its own operational program and work under the authority of the Chief of Staff of the FANCI and the Chief of Staff of the army of the New Forces
· The speedy establishment of the national program of disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation (DDR).
· Setting up and enrolment in the Civics Service by the ex-combatants.
· National reconciliation, Peace, Security and the free movement of people and goods: In this connection the following measures were taken:
· Removal of the arms embargo and importation of light weapons three months after the presidential elections, with the assistance of the UNSC and the ECOWAS Mediator.
· The elimination of the Zone of Confidence and the establishment of the green line from East to West to be monitored by impartial forces
· Promulgations of the Amnesty Law to exclude certain crimes
· The waving of sanctions against certain Ivorians involved in the national crisis
· Setting up of the program for the return of the displaced Ivorians.
· Adherence by all parties to the Code of Good Behaviour to avert biased interpretation of this accord

Follow-up and Consultation mechanism
A Permanent Framework for Consultation was set up to periodically examine any issue relating to the present agreement. The forum is composed as follows:
· Mr Laurent Gbagbo, President of the Republic;
· Mr Guillaume Soro, Secretary General of the New Forces;
· Mr Alassane Ouattara, President of the RDR;
· Mr Konan Bedi, President of the PDCI
· Mr Blaise Compaore, ECOWAS Chairman

Decree re: creation of military structure
President Laurent Gbagbo has signed a decree creating a military structure that includes rebel forces.

The new integrated command centre will include equal numbers of government troops and rebels, and will work to demobilise militias from both sides.

The initiative is one of the steps agreed in a recent peace deal aimed at ending years of civil war.

Outcomes of the 13th International Working Group

The Group paid tribute to the President of Burkina Faso, H.E. Mr Blaise Compaoré, for his untiring facilitation efforts in a spirit of Cupertino and appeasement. It encouraged him to pursue these efforts in order to reach, as soon as possible, an agreement that can re-launch the peace process in Côte d'Ivoire in keeping with the expectations of the Ivorian populations. In this regard, the Group welcomes the fact that the direct dialogue deals with fundamental issues mentioned in resolution 1721 that are at the core of the Ivorian crisis, namely: identification, the restructuring of the defence and security forces, DDR, DDM, the redeployment of the administration, and the preparation of elections. The Group appeals to the Ivorian parties to take ownership of the peace process within the framework of resolution 1721. The Group stresses that the agreement to be concluded by the Ivorian parties must permit the normalisation of the situation in Côte d'Ivoire.

The Group heard a briefing by the commanders of the impartial forces, who mentioned the fragility of the situation in the country and recalled the security risk that would result from a stagnation of the peace process.

The Group stressed that any global agreement reached at the direct dialogue will not be able to facilitate the settlement of the Ivorian crisis unless the signatories translate into action their will to achieve peace by fulfilling all their commitments in good faith.

The Group will hold its next meeting on 13 April 2007 in Côte d'Ivoire.

Comments by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

Following the signing of a peace agreement between the rival leaders in Côte d'Ivoire, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the international community to be ready to provide key help in such fields as disarmament, security sector reform and preparations for elections in the divided country.
"The United Nations stands ready, and continues to prepare and assist Ivorian parties in implementing rapidly and in a comprehensive manner the many key tasks related to those processes."
"The support of the international community for the political process should be complemented by commensurate efforts to address the humanitarian situation in the country," he writes, urging donors to contribute generously to the 2007 UN appeal for Côte d'Ivoire.

MIDDLE EAST

I think that we have in the last few days seen some very historic decisions.

Palestinian Unity Government
Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, announced after talks with President Mahmoud Abbas, on Wednesday 14 March 2007, that Fatah and Hamas, the rival Palestinian factions, have agreed on the composition of a Palestinian unity government. We believe this a very representative Cabinet and is the first time in the history of the Palestinian people that there is such a Cabinet.

Palestinian Cabinet
Prime minister: Ismail Haniya Hamas
Deputy prime minister: Azzam al-Ahmad Fatah
Culture: Bassam El Salehi Peoples party (Communist)
Foreign: Ziad Abu Amr Independent
Finance: Salam Fayad Independent
Health: Radwan al-Akhras Fatah
Information: Mustafa Barghouti Independent
Interior: Hani al-Qawasmi Independent
Transportation: Saidi al-Krunz Fatah
Planning: Sameer Abu Aicheh Independent
Public works: Samih al Abed Fatah
Prisoner Affairs: Suleiman Abu Sneina Fatah, West Bank
Secretary of state: Khuloud Ehdeib Independent
Social Affairs: Saleh Ziedan Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Agenda of the Unity Government
The government confirms that ending the Israeli occupation is the key for achieving peace in the Palestinian territories, recognising the Palestinian peoples right of self-determination, the government will co-operate with the international community for ending the Israeli occupation, and the restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people which will enable us to construct a solid ground for peace, security and prosperity in the region.

The government abides by protecting and saving the higher interests and rights of the Palestinian people, preserving their achievements and developing it, implementing their national goals, according to national councils, basic law articles, the national reconciliation document and the Arab summits' resolutions, up on this basis the government will respect the resolutions of the international legitimacy and the accords which were signed by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).
The government confirms that resistance is a legitimate right for the Palestinian people which is approved by all norms and international documents, our people have the right to defend themselves against any Israeli occupation, the government believes that stopping resistance is related to ending the Israeli occupation.

However, through national reconciliation, the government will do its best to stabilise the ceasefire accord and will continue expanding it to achieve an overall mutual ceasefire accord in exchange for ending the Israeli occupation, assassinations, raids, needs, demolishing houses, Jerusalem excavations, lifting check points, roadblocks, re-opening crossings, lifting restrictions on frequent movement and releasing prisoners.

The government abides by what was stated in the national reconciliation document concerning negotiations with Israel, where the PLO is designated to hold negotiations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority Chairman on the basis of adhering to the Palestinian national goals and implementing it, however any fateful agreement will be presented for a vote of confidence in the Palestinian Legislative Council first, or will be subjected to a public referendum inside and outside Palestine.

The government will support all efforts done regarding releasing the abducted Israeli soldier Saleet and achieving an honourable prisoners swap deal.

The government stresses on its Arabic and Islamic depth, it will establish correct, strong relations and ties with different countries in the world as well as with the international associations including the UN and the Security Council, and regional international organisations, this will help in strengthening peace and world stability. The EU has offered a lot of aid to our Palestinian people and its supported its right for independence and freedom, the EU had serious policies in criticising the Israeli policy towards Palestinians, that is why we are concerned about building strong and solid relations with the EU, we still expect a bigger role from the EU to push Israel to respect the human rights which were stated by international documents and its withdrawal from all the Palestinian territories, stopping all continuous aggression towards our people.

The government will also develop its relations with the permanent members of the Security Council (Russia, China, Japan, African states and Asian states) thus ensuring the rights of our Palestinian people. In the meantime the government will call on the United States to reconsider its unfair stance on the Palestinian case and it will call on the US administration to respect the Palestinian people's choice represented in the formation of the unity government.

Position of South African government
South Africa welcomes this historic development.

All Palestinian leaders have put the interests of the Palestinian people at the top of their agenda.

United in action, the Palestinians can now, decisively, struggle for a Palestinian state living side by side with an Israeli state.

Again, the EU, the US, the Quartet and Israel have given a qualified welcome to the formation of the unity government and have indicated that they will not lift sanctions and normalise relations with the Palestinian government.

The South African government believes this is a very short-sighted approach and call on the USA, the EU, Israel and other countries that have imposed sanctions against the Palestinian Authority to immediately lift these sanctions and start genuine talks without pre-conditions with the Palestinian Authority.

We call on Israel to release the Palestinian funds that it has blocked since the Palestinian elections in January 2006.

We call on the Palestinian Authority to stop all rocket attacks against Israel. This has only resulted in massive Israeli military and other repressive actions and has undermined the just Palestinian cause internationally.

We call for the release of all political prisoners.

Without resolving the Palestinian-Israeli issue, no other major challenges in the region, including terrorism, can be solved.

We urge the Security Council, the Arab League and the Quartet to fulfill its responsibilities and to seize the moment to ensure that at last we achieve a negotiated outcome based on the two-state solution.

We do sincerely hope that the countries who are making a qualified and sometimes begrudging recognition of the Palestinian government should not lose this opportunity. We therefore eagerly watch the Arab League Summit that will take place next week because we believe the neighbours must take a decisive stand on the issue. The opportunity is there for a solution and any attempt to minimise this historic moment will create the conditions for more tension and violence.

South Africa has been in touch with all sectors of Palestinian society before the formation of the unity government. We will now intensify our efforts to assist the Palestinian government move from their isolation.

International Reactions

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
In an interview earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said, he was disappointed that the new Palestinian coalition government did not endorsed the three basic peace principles set down by the Middle East Quartet, namely recognition of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements signed by the PLO and the Jewish state and renunciation of violence.

"It is important that parties concerned should respect the right to exist, particularly Israel's, and engage in dialogue without resorting to violence," he said.

Middle East Quartet Statement
(United Nations, Russian Federation, the United States and European Union)

The Quartet Principals - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner - discussed by telephone the situation in the Middle East, and in particular the establishment of a Palestinian National Unity Government.

The Quartet reiterated its respect for Palestinian democracy and the agreement reached in Mecca on 8 February 2007, which laid the foundation for Palestinian reconciliation. The Quartet expressed hope that the establishment of a new government on 17 March 2007 would help end intra-Palestinian violence and ensure calm. The Quartet reaffirmed its previous statements with regard to the need for a Palestinian government committed to nonviolence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap, and encouraged progress in this direction. The Quartet agreed that the commitment of the new government in this regard will be measured not only on the basis of its composition and platform, but also its actions.

The Quartet expressed its expectation that the unity government will act responsibly, demonstrate clear and credible commitment to the Quartet principles, and support the efforts of President Abbas to pursue a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, thereby achieving the peace, security, and freedom the Israeli and Palestinian people desire and deserve.

The Quartet reiterated the continuing need to coordinate and mobilize international assistance in support of the Palestinian people, and endorsed the continuation of the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) for a three-month period while it evaluates the situation and the international community works to develop a more sustainable international mechanism for support to the Palestinians.

The Quartet expressed its strong support for Secretary Rice's efforts to further facilitate discussions with President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert with the aim of defining more clearly the political horizon for the establishment of a Palestinian state and an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet agreed to meet in the region soon to review developments and discuss the way ahead.

Israel

Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh on Friday 16 March 207 said Israel must boycott the incoming Palestinian unity government but continue to work with president Mahmud Abbas to defeat Hamas.

"Israel cannot give legitimacy to the Palestinian unity government by cooperating with it while it rejects the principles of the Quartet," Sneh told Israeli public radio.

"To cause the failure of Hamas, we need a moderate Palestinian alternative and for that purpose we must negotiate only with Abu Mazen (Abbas)," he added.
European Union
European Union said it welcomed the formation of the government, although it remained cautious about a possible resumption of aid.

"The EU will carefully assess the platform and actions of the new government and its ministers," it said in a statement.


Norway

Norway today Monday 19 March 2007 restored full relations with the Palestinian Authority on Monday after Ismail Haniya's Hamas movement and president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction formed a unity government on Saturday.



Raymond Johansen, Norway's deputy foreign minister, said: "We hope that all the European countries, and even other countries, will ... support this unity government.

"We hope that this unity government will work hard in order to fulfil the expectations from the international community."

Other Developments

Arab League
The Arab League Summit scheduled for 28 March 2007 held under the banner, "The Summit of Solidarity," is expected to focus on the relaunch of the Arab peace plan to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Visit to region by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to Aswan, Egypt; Jerusalem; Ramallah; and Amman, Jordan March 23-27, 2007. In addition to bilateral meetings with representatives from the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, Secretary Rice will meet with the foreign ministers of the Arab Quartet and with Egyptian President Mubarak in Aswan. She will also meet with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman. While in the region, Secretary Rice will discuss the next steps in achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as other regional issues of mutual interest.

The need to move urgently and boldly to normalise relations with the Palestinian Unity Government and to lift sanctions is highlighted by three recent reports:

1. Briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs to Security Council B Lynn Pascoe
"Despite continuing tensions, violence and mistrust, a majority of Israelis and Palestinians still embrace a common dream of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security," B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council.

In his first briefing on the issue, he said that, often and tragically, the hopes for peace in the Middle East had been frustrated. There was no choice, however, but to keep working towards that end; to overcome the setbacks that would inevitably occur and to build, wherever possible, on steps in the right direction. There had been several positive developments during the past month -- among them the agreement reached in Mecca on a Palestinian national unity Government and the renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

He said that the ceasefire agreed in Mecca had already calmed the internal Palestinian front, although isolated clashes underscored the fragility of the situation. Palestinian Prime Minister designate Ismail Haniyeh had consulted all factions on forming a new Government and remained in close and frequent contact with President Mahmoud Abbas. Under the basic law, the new Government must be finalized by 21 March, and there were signs that it might be presented imminently to the Palestinian Legislative Council. "We must hope that the new Government will take positions and actions that demonstrate, as was agreed in Mecca, respect for the signed agreements of the PLO, which renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist in peace and security, and impose crucial obligations on the Palestinian Authority."

On 21 February in Berlin, Germany, the Quartet had affirmed it would take a "wait and see" approach, he continued. In the meantime, preliminary discussions were under way on new ideas proposed by the European Commission for facilitating aid, financing and coordination to support Palestinian social and economic development and to strengthen public institutions and governance. President Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had met on two occasions, one on 19 February with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and again last Sunday in a bilateral meeting, he said. There were also welcome signs of increased engagement by Arab countries, centring around efforts to breathe new life into the Arab Peace Initiative. There were no further moves, however, towards dialogue between Israel and Syria.

During the past month, the lives of 23 Palestinians -- 8 at the hands of the Israel Defense Forces -- and 1 Israeli had been taken by violence, he said. Noting that Palestinian militants had fired at least 55 rockets into Israel from Gaza, he commended Israel's continued restraint in the face of those unjustified provocations in breach of the agreed ceasefire. Israeli security forces in Tel Aviv had arrested a man who allegedly had been preparing a suicide bombing. Those incidents underscored the importance for a new Palestinian Government to ensure that its security forces worked in harmony to prevent the smuggling of weapons, to impose internal law and order, and to act firmly against those who perpetrated attacks against Israel.

In late February, the Israel Defense Forces had launched a large military operation in Nablus, during which sites used for preparing explosives had been uncovered and a number of suspects arrested, he said. However, thousands of Palestinians had been put under curfew for several days. Other Israel Defense Forces' actions included the firing on fishermen in the coastal waters of the Gaza Strip.

Turning to the situation in the Old City of Jerusalem and Israeli excavation and construction activity near the Al-Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, he said a delegation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had recently visited that World Heritage-listed site and reported on the situation to the Secretary-General yesterday. The report recommended that the Government of Israel be asked to comply with its obligations regarding heritage conservation in World Heritage Sites, and to stop immediately the archaeological excavation, even though the works did not threaten the stability of the Western Wall or Al-Aqsa Mosque. Other recommendations included a call on the Israeli Government to clearly define the final design of the access structure to the Mughrabi Gate and to have the process supervised by an international team of experts coordinated by UNESCO.

Mr. Pascoe also expressed concern at the continued creation of facts on the ground. The construction of the barrier was now complete along more than half of its route and continuing, contrary to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. Settlement activity also continued and the Israeli Government had yet to begin to dismantle the more than 100 settlement outposts in the West Bank, despite its clear obligations to do so under the Road Map.

The Agreement on Movement and Access was still not being fully implemented and, while there had been some progress at Karni, where truck crossings had increased by 15 per cent during the past month -- doubling since November -- further efforts were needed to meet the targets of the Agreement. There had been little or no progress on other fronts, he added. Rafah had been open for only 16 per cent of the scheduled hours and the crossing had become increasingly volatile and insecure. As the European Union Border Assistance Mission had warned repeatedly, limited and unscheduled openings at Rafah made it extremely difficult to control the crossing.

When some 5,000 Palestinians had tried to exit Gaza through Rafah during an unscheduled opening on 8 March, the human crush had left one person dead and seven injured. "The unsatisfactory situation at Rafah raises the risks of violence, creates greater incentives for smuggling through illegal entry points and causes disillusionment among Gaza residents," he said. Despite the commitments made this past December between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, there had been no meaningful reduction in the number of obstacles to movement in the West Bank, which currently stood at 529. The lack of action to improve movement and access in accordance with existing commitments undermined efforts to revive the Palestinian economy.

He said that United Nations workers were also facing increased restrictions on their movement, thus jeopardizing humanitarian operations in Gaza, even as needs on the ground continued to grow. That situation had recently drawn the attention of senior Israeli officials, and he hoped that would lead to the lifting of the restrictions.

Lebanon

On Lebanon, he said that there had been several important developments since the Council had last been briefed. Opposition demonstrations that had begun in Beirut in December had continued to occur in a calm and orderly manner and without major incidents. Regional efforts to broker a solution to the political impasse were becoming more intense in the lead up to the Arab League Summit on 28 March, resulting in a general atmosphere of cautious optimism. He said that the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, and the leader of the Future Movement, Saad Hariri, had met three times in recent days to bridge the gap between the Government and the opposition.

In contrast, there had been a "worrying increase" in the number of security threats and bomb scares reported in Lebanon over the past four weeks, he said, adding that Lebanese security forces had discovered several explosive devices in Beirut, in populated areas outside the capital and throughout the country. While a number of those explosives were not primed to detonate; on one occasion, detonators linked to chemical substances had been discovered.

Turning to the situation in southern Lebanon, he said that the past month had been relatively calm along the "Blue Line", although, regrettably, Israeli violations of that border continued. For instance, Israeli planes had violated Lebanese airspace on 21 February, drawing anti-aircraft fire from the Lebanese army in response. In addition, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was conducting an investigation into a Blue Line violation that had taken place earlier this month when a Lebanese youth was forced by Israeli soldiers to cross the Blue Line and the technical fence into the Israeli side. The findings of that investigation would be communicated to both sides.

Wrapping up his presentation, he said he had highlighted a number of positive developments that contrasted with a year of diminished hopes and expectations in the region. "Much will depend now on how recent agreements are implemented on the ground," he said, adding that an international community, engaged in the period ahead with both firmness and flexibility, could help ensure that encouraging steps forward turned into longer strides for peace.

2. Report by Special Rapporteur Professor John Dugard

The report by John Dugard, a South African law professor who is the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, has likened Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories to apartheid South Africa and says there should be "serious consideration" over bringing the occupation to the international court of justice.
Prof Dugard said although Israel and apartheid South Africa were different regimes, "Israel's laws and practices in the OPT [occupied Palestinian territories] certainly resemble aspects of apartheid." His comments are in an advance version of a report on the UN Human Rights Council's website ahead of its session next month.
After describing the situation for Palestinians in the West Bank, with closed zones, demolitions and preference given to settlers on roads, with building rights and by the army, he said: "Can it seriously be denied that the purpose of such action is to establish and maintain domination by one racial group (Jews) over another racial group (Palestinians) and systematically oppressing them? Israel denies that this is its intention or purpose. But such an intention or purpose may be inferred from the actions described in this report."
He dismissed Israel's argument that the sole purpose of the vast concrete and steel West Bank barrier is for security. "It has become abundantly clear that the wall and checkpoints are principally aimed at advancing the safety, convenience and comfort of settlers," he said.
Gaza remained under occupation despite the withdrawal of settlers in 2005. "In effect, following Israel's withdrawal, Gaza became a sealed-off, imprisoned and occupied territory," he said.
Prof Dugard said his mandate was solely to report on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and he described as a violation of international humanitarian law the firing of rockets by Palestinians from Gaza into Israel. "Such actions cannot be condoned and clearly constitute a war crime," he said. "Nevertheless, Israel's response has been grossly disproportionate and indiscriminate and resulted in the commission of multiple war crimes."
3. UN World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organisation
A report by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that One-third of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are food insecure.

About 34% of Palestinians cannot afford a balanced meal and another 12% are at risk of reaching this state, the organisations found in a Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment published this month. Most affected is the Gaza Strip, where 51% of the population suffers from food insecurity.

"The poorest families are now living a meagre existence totally reliant on assistance, with no electricity or heating and eating food prepared with water from bad sources," according to a statement by Arnold Vercken, the WFP country director for the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

Poverty is rising in the West Bank and Gaza because of international sanctions, compounded by Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinian goods and labour related to security concerns. The Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot pay its civil servants because the international community has refused to fund the PA unless the Palestinian government, which includes Hamas, recognises Israel and renounces violence.

Some PA salaries are being paid through a Temporary International Mechanism supported by the European Commission. About 80% of Gazans receive aid from WFP or UNRWA.

"Without a political resolution - and particularly removal of restrictions on movement - improvement in the humanitarian situation is unlikely and millions will remain dependent on assistance," noted the FAO/WFP report. "A substantive injection of aid and social transfers has partially cushioned the declining humanitarian situation in Palestine, but aid cannot fully compensate for the loss of self-reliance."

IRAQ

We have recently seen the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces.

The carnage continues and it is conservatively estimated that about 65000 have been killed and thousands injured.

South Africa welcomed the recent meeting held in Baghdad in preparation for a meeting of neighbouring Foreign Ministers.

The meeting was attended by Iraq's neighbours - Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait and representatives of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (IOC).

Another important development was the meeting of nearly 100 delegations from Member States, humanitarian agencies and regional organizations gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Friday 16 March 2007 for a long-term initiative for Iraq that aims to consolidate peace and pursue political, economic and social development over the next five years in the violence-torn country.

It was the first time that the International Compact with Iraq (ICI), a joint UN-Iraqi Government plan, has met in New York since it was initiated last July, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called it "a tool for unlocking Iraq's own potential" in public sector resource management, institution building and human development, and in achieving a more holistic approach to energy management.

Comments by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
I thank you all for attending this meeting and for your commitment to the International Compact with Iraq.

The preparatory process for the Compact has been under way in Baghdad since July 2006. This process, which included two high-level meetings in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, has brought together the Government of Iraq and the international community in an effort to develop a mechanism that would help Iraq to realize its national vision.

As you know, a small support group was established to support the preparatory process. But it has always been our intention -- and that of the Government of Iraq -- to expand the group in due course. Today's meeting offers an opportunity to bring the larger international community together to consider how best to support the people of Iraq under the Compact.

I am pleased that His Excellency, Mr. Adel Abdul Mahdi, Vice-President of Iraq, is here today to inform us about the latest developments in Iraq and, in particular, about the progress that has been made in the preparatory process for the Compact.

We are all aware of the difficult situation in Iraq. It is heart-wrenching to see almost daily attacks on innocent civilians, which have left immense suffering and pain in their wake. Beyond the political violence and sectarian strife, a humanitarian crisis is stretching the patience and ability of ordinary people to cope with everyday life. The United Nations is now strengthening its humanitarian efforts, and working with Iraq's neighbours and other countries in the region, to address the increasing needs of those who have left Iraq temporarily, those displaced inside the country and those suffering from diminishing access to basic public services.

Given these circumstances, some may question why a Compact would be necessary or appropriate. I understand these concerns. However, a framework for normalization is required now more than ever.

I am also aware of the view that there is a multitude of initiatives on Iraq, which have yet to yield tangible results. Certainly, there is a need to streamline and consolidate these initiatives, and to concentrate on achievable goals. But, unlike the other initiatives, the Compact focuses on Iraq's long-term economic development, while also stressing progress in the political and security fields, through a mutually reinforcing relationship.

The Compact aims to achieve its objectives in two ways:
First, a "national compact" among Iraqis on the necessary security and political steps would be agreed upon. These steps are prerequisites for the normalization of the situation in Iraq and for the revitalization of the economy.

Second, an "international compact" between Iraq and its partners would set out the Government of Iraq's agenda for the next five years with regard to economic and social reform. This shared vision and mutual commitment would allow the international community to channel support in accordance with the priorities decided upon by Iraqis themselves.

The Compact should be seen as a tool for unlocking Iraq's own potential. It seeks to achieve concrete results in the areas of public sector resource management, institution-building and human development, in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. It also emphasizes a more holistic approach to energy management. Towards that end, the Government's recent efforts to adopt new oil and gas legislation are encouraging. Indeed, a viable arrangement to share the nation's oil wealth and natural resources can also help build much-needed trust and confidence among Iraqi communities.

There has also been welcome progress in adopting other key legislative acts. But these may not achieve their full and positive impact, unless the same consensus is also expressed in the Iraqi Constitution. This makes a genuine and meaningful constitutional review process all the more important.

Above all, it is essential that all Iraqi communities come together in a spirit of dialogue to find lasting solutions. As they do so, they should be able to count on the active support of Iraq's neighbours and the international community. The Compact is an important framework for fulfilling precisely those shared responsibilities towards Iraq and its people.

The United Nations is committed to supporting the implementation of the Compact. Through my good offices, and those of my Special Representative in Iraq, Mr. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the United Nations will make every effort to ensure that the international community remains engaged in this process.

I have appointed Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, who is well known to you all, as my Special Advisor on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Political Issues, to succeed Mr. Mark Malloch Brown as co-Chair of the Compact. He will be in active contact with all concerned to move this process forward and to ensure its success.

The challenges ahead are immense. I am sure you will all agree that we cannot leave Iraq on its own to cope with them. The International Compact is intended to help the Government to build a secure, unified, federal and democratic nation, founded on the principles of freedom and equality, capable of providing peace and prosperity for all its people.

A positive political progress and a reduction of violence are essential preconditions for the success of this initiative. I call on the parties to work towards this goal. And, to maintain the momentum generated by this meeting itself, I encourage the Government of Iraq to agree on the date and venue for the launch of the International Compact.

Thank you again for attending this meeting. I am hopeful that, through our concerted efforts, we can help to build a country at peace with itself, with its neighbours, and with the wider international community.

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL

The way the media has handled our approach to the United Nations Security Council's position on Zimbabwe is far from the reality that is on the ground.

Similarly, the way in which our approach on the resolution on Iran has been handled by the South African media is again not reflective of the reality on the ground.

I find it a bit strange that when a group of countries, as is experienced in the Security Council with the P5 and in the case of Iran, the P5+ Germany, submit after very secret consultations a draft resolution, why any country's attempt, including that of South Africa, to contribute to that resolution is seen to be an attempt to "scupper" what has been achieved, and other such descriptions.

Surely you mush accept that it is incumbent upon South Africa and other non-permanent members of the Security Council, who for the first time are seeing such a resolution, to make inputs where necessary? Why else would we be members of the Security Council?

It doesn't mean that by proposing amendments we are opposing certain countries? We have positions. What is wrong with putting forward our positions for purposes of debate and negotiation? We will vote, as will have to do on Saturday, based on negotiations that we have for the first time had with the P5+Germany on the draft resolution. You must understand that the negotiations that led to the draft resolution were conducted completely secretly. We are only privy to the document when it is put forward as a draft resolution.

I think it is incumbent upon any country worth its salt or with any independent foreign policy perspectives to be able to interact with the P5+Germany, not to be intransigent, but to find common ground. It is not a matter that we are being spiteful or malicious. It is the logic of the Security Council mechanism to act in such a way.

At the appropriate time we make a critical analysis on how the South African media has covered matters that are critical to international peace and security.

We have also, on many of these issues said to the opposition parties in parliament, that it is a practice of international relations to not have differing positions without understanding the issues. We are therefore willing, as Foreign Affairs, to meet with them to explain our positions so that an understanding can be facilitated.

It is not helpful to us to have vibrant and militant statements emerging without a clear understanding of the issues confronting the government and region.

NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION

IRAN


The United Nations Security Council is expected to, on Saturday 24 March 2007, vote on a new resolution against Iran.

Iran's Position
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday 15 March 2007 that Iran would not shelve its nuclear programmes and that a Security Council resolution could not stop Iran from obtaining nuclear technology.

"Today the enemies of the Iranian people are seeking to use the Security Council to prevent the progress and development of Iran," said President Ahmadinejad.

"But the Security Council has no legitimacy among the peoples of the world."

"What is the aim of issuing such resolutions? Today we are mastering the nuclear fuel cycle completely."

"If all of you (Westerners) get together and call your ancestors from hell as well, you will not be able to stop the Iranian nation."

Western nations suspect Iran's nuclear programme is a cover for efforts to make atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Washington says it wants a diplomatic solution, but has not ruled out military action.

In a meeting with Iranian Ambassadors to Western European states in Tehran on Monday 12 March 2007 said that Iran is prepared to cooperate with Europe towards promotion of peace, justice and humanitarian goals.

The chief executive underlined that expansion of friendly ties with all countries and nations within the framework of country's beliefs and ideals is one of the major principles of Iran's policy.

Government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham:
Said in Iran on Tuesday 13 March 2007 that suspension of enrichment was no longer an issue: "The opposite side has killed the issue. Hence, the rights and assertions of the Islamic Republic of Iran are now stabilized."

At his weekly press conference, Elham made it clear that while Iran would not welcome a new sanctions resolution (by the UN Security Council), it would not be concerned about one and urged the council to move reasonably on Iran's nuclear case because other options, sanctions in particular, would only complicate the current situation. He said "sanctions will have no impact on the progress of the Iranian nation. To us, sanctions are not new literature because they had been imposed on Iran way back since the victory of the Islamic Revolution (in 1979).

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is not concerned about possible sanctions."
The spokesman added that in international arrangements, sanctions affect both sides.

Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani:
On Tuesday 13 March 2007 called on the global community to deal with Iran's nuclear case wisely.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has taken necessary measures to build up international confidence in its peaceful nuclear program, hoping that the concerned parties would take effective steps to settle the problem by focusing on winning the other party's confidence," said Rafsanjani in a meeting with Singaporean senior minister Goh Chok Tong.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Wednesday 14 March 2007 that he still hoped a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program issue could be achieved in spite of efforts by the West to pass a new UN Security Council resolution stepping up sanctions.

Minister Mottaki reiterated Iran's insistence that its nuclear program was "peaceful" and that a compromise was essential to kick-starting talks that could lead to a "comprehensive solution."

If Iran and the West agreed on concessions resulting in a suspension in the West's push against Iran in the UN Security Council and Iran's honoring of the Additional Protocols to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a diplomatic solution could be achieved "within three to four weeks," said Minister Mottaki.

He said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that Iran's current activities were "safe," adding that Iran could provide sufficient assurances that its nuclear program would not diverge from peaceful purposes in the future.

Foreign Minister Mottaki held discussions with President Mbeki in Cape Town on Tuesday 20 March 2007.

NORTH KOREA

Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei visited Pyongyang, the DPRK capital, Wednesday and Thursday last week at the invitation from the DPRK after it committed in Six-Party talks in Beijing last month to eventually dismantle all nuclear weapon facilities and materials in return for energy and other aid.
Dr Mohamed ElBaradei said, following his talks in North Korea that it is committed to a disarmament agreement reached in February but wants sanctions against it lifted first.

Mr ElBaradei said the visit had been "quite useful" and had opened the way to a normal relationship.

"I think they were very clear that they are willing to implement the February 13 agreement once the other parties implement their part," he said, referring to an agreement reached at six-party talks grouping the two Koreas, Russia, Japan, the United States and host China.

"The DPRK (North Korea) mentioned that they are waiting for the lifting of sanctions with regard to the Macau bank."

Of closing the Yongbyon nuclear plant he said: "They said they are ready, willing and capable of doing that as soon as the financial sanctions are lifted".

He added that the DPRK was "positive about returning to IAEA membership."

The successful negotiations with the DPRK indicates that if negotiations are undertaken on the basis of equality, sovereignty, respect for the common concerns and positions of al involved, a constructive approach to solve the matter through negotiations and a "win-win" approach that any problem can be solved.

Latest Developments in 6 Party Talks

The North Korean delegation had refused to continue with negotiations until it is able to access $25m in funds that had been frozen in a Macau bank and Chief Negotiator Kim Kye-gwan was reported to have left Beijing.

The US Chief Envoy to the talks Christopher Hill said on Monday that approval had been given for the funds to be released, raising hopes that a major sticking point had been removed.

But the North Koreans said no talks would be held until the funds appeared in a Bank of China account held in Beijing.

It is not clear what has caused the delay in transferring the funds.

Questions and answers
Question Deputy Minister, regarding SADC and Zimbabwe - we had originally heard that the SADC meeting of the Organ Troika was scheduled for Dar-es-Salaam on Monday and Tuesday next week. We have heard this has now been postponed. Do you know why? What level of representation are you expecting at the meeting? You also mentioned that some countries outside Africa had some responsibility in the situation in Zimbabwe - which countries were you referring to and how could they have assisted?

Answer As we have indicated, President Kikwete as the Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, which is the right organ to deal with the matter of conflicts and tensions, had gone to Zimbabwe to discuss his visit to Europe and the preparations of the Africa - European Summit and in the context of this, obviously, discussed the present situation in Zimbabwe.

It then emerged that the Tanzanians were consulting with all members of the Organ to see whether a Summit could be convened as soon as possible. I was not aware that they had already decided on the date.

The Tanzanian government was still consulting on the dates. As you know, when a Summit is called, you have to have Heads of State present. For this to happen on short notice you have to ascertain whether their programmes can be changed on short notice.

It is clear that President Kikwete, as Chair of the Organ, believes that there must be discussion at the highest levels to ascertain the way forward.

If this meeting is at Summit level it will be attended by Heads of State, if it is at Ministerial level, it will be attended by Foreign Ministers. Off course, these meetings are preceded by meetings of senior officials.

Regarding my comments on the lack of action from outside governments, what I had said was that, what is consistently challenged is "quiet diplomacy" which we call constructive diplomacy against a tougher diplomacy which we call "megaphone diplomacy".

It is my view, not necessarily that of my government, that if we had a common view with specifically the European Union and the United States on how to deal with what could be foreseen as an impending economic crisis which exacerbates the political crisis, if Africa had been able to work together with the US and the EU to get a more creative approach for all Zimbabweans to do what the Reserve Bank Governor and Churches are now calling for, reconciliation and national dialogue, then what would have happened is that the doors would not have been closed between the EU and US and government forces in Zimbabwe. There would have been an opportunity for discussion, even if quite critically, to find and implement a solution.

Until two weeks ago many forces were calling for this dialogue to begin, to find a common approach to deal with the country's challenges.

We still believe that Africa, Europe and the US must work together to find a constructive solution.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, earlier today the Australian Foreign Minister called on South Africa to assist with the removal of President Robert Mugabe. What are your comments on this?
Answer It is useless for the Australian Foreign Minister to call on us to do more without suggesting exactly what more can be done.

There are many calls for South Africa to do more. What more can South Africa do that it has not done in terms of contributing to finding a solution?

I was happy when the Chairman of the African Union said that Africa is not going to lead an expeditionary force to Zimbabwe and that this must be rethought.

It is now a question of how we deal with particular issues in a more constructive and creative way.

I do believe we could have done more to avoid the situation in which we find ourselves today, if we worked together. If we had used the same song sheet and sang in the same band, we could have helped the Zimbabweans work together to find a solution and not allow the socio-economic and political situation to have deteriorated to this point.

If we had worked together constructively we would not find ourselves in this quagmire now.

I will wait for the Australians and others, who are sitting very far away, advising us on our foreign policy, to tell us what exactly we can do.

The Australian government took a very strong stand in the Commonwealth Summit in Nigeria which closed doors and created a climate of no-forward movement. Today, the situation is worse than when the Commonwealth met in Nigeria. This is part of what I said earlier that a different approach to finding a solution is in the interests of Zimbabwe, SADC and Africa.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, do you think that South Africa's ideological positions at the United Nations Security Council are compromising values it has striven to uphold like the respect for human rights eg. South Africa's view of the Myanmar vote? On Zimbabwe, you called on all parties in Zimbabwe to respect the rule of law. Were you indicating that some of the opposition party members bore some responsibility for the beatings that have been inflicted upon them?
Answer I don't think our positions on the Security Council are based on ideology that impacts on our long held traditions of the defence of human rights, etc. It is not also a support for dictators.

We have explained quite consistently why we voted the way in which we did on Myanmar. We categorically stated our concerns on the situation in Myanmar and committed ourselves to doing all that is possible to restore democracy, normalize the situation, have political prisoners released. This is not debatable.

Our challenge was: if we are strong advocates of multilateralism, which we are, then we should not weaken multilateralism by taking issues out of the forum in which they are best dealt with to the Security Council. This is a tendency that has emerged and increased in the last few years.

For no reason, without explanation, out of the blue, came the issue of Myanmar on the agenda of the Security Council. We will continue to insist that the Security Council has a mandate to deal with threats regional and international peace and security.

If this is the principled position that drives us, then we cannot vacillate each time attempts are made to take the issue from where it should be discussed and smuggle it into the Security Council.

I did say, when I briefed you after our vote, that I could predict that after a lot of noise on the matter, based on our vote that was not properly understood, this issue would disappear from the radar of the civil society and media. For us who have to work daily on international relations, we cannot respond to what I call 'hot issues' as a short-term event.

What has happened since our vote on Myanmar? Can anyone tell me what serious initiatives have been put on the table in the relevant institutions? Has there been discussion with ASEAN on how to proceed?

South Africa voted on principle.

With regard to Iran, I explained that it was already decided, against our view, that this is a Security Council matter. But why would South Africa, as a member of the Security Council, having been given a document that we had previously not seen, not have the right to make our views known.

I said in the briefing, that if this is how international relations is going to be conducted, then there is no need for dialogue or to take into account the views of other countries.

It is not because we do not accept elements of the resolution but because we had not previously seen it. We must make our views known through negotiations. Nobody goes to negotiations with a bottom line that is cast in stone. But we must discuss and negotiate and based on this we will vote on Saturday as it is now seems the day on which the voting will take place. We will consult with NAM and other non-permanent members of the Security Council and we will vote in the best interests of finding a solution and not further escalating a very dangerous situation. The threat of another arena of conflict is becoming a very real possibility.

We will not oppose matters just for opposition sake. We want to ensure that decisions taken in the Security Council will prevent further outbreaks of conflict in the region.

We have consistently said, as part of the NAM Troika, to the Iranian government that Iran's right, like South Africa's, to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes cannot be challenged, but because of the past experiences, there is an area of distrust so there are two fundamental issues that must be tackled:
1. Iran's right to have nuclear energy for peaceful purposes; and
2. the international community's concern that international safeguards must be put in place before they can be convinced that there is no intention, despite what is being said by the Iranians, to diversify its programme.
It is in this context that we have called on the Iranians, within the IAEA, the Security Council and bilaterally to conclude their negotiations with the IAEA so that the IAEA can produce an honest and scientific assessment that Iran has no intentions of diversifying its programme.

This will remain our position. We will continue to argue for Iran to conclude discussions with the IAEA. This is the crux of the matter.

Regarding Zimbabwe - when we call on all Zimbabweans to respect the rule of law it is so that all Zimbabweans can be helped and that there can be an atmosphere of reconciliation and national dialogue to take place. It doesn't mean we condone the actions against the demonstrators but we do say, and this is my problem, in briefings given to all diplomats in Zimbabwe, lists are given of actions being perpetrated by demonstrators, inter alia - petrol bombings of police stations, looting of shops, high-jacking of vehicles - I am not saying these acts are being committed by the opposition party but could be perpetrated by some elements. We have this in South Africa too.

We are calling on all Zimbabweans to respect the law. You may not like the law but the essence of democracy is that the law must be respected.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, was Zimbabwe discussed at the yesterday's SADC Ministerial meeting? On Iran, if South Africa's amendments to the resolution are rejected, will South Africa support the original draft?
Answer SADC Ministerial meetings in February and March are by their nature, very technical. SADC meets are different levels and not many foreign ministers attend these meetings. The meeting was attended by mainly trade and finance ministers because it dealt with integration, economic issues and other such matters.

However, because we were there at this critical time, we were briefed of President Kikwete's initiatives, the Zimbabweans gave us their views and indeed there is a statement that was issued by the Double Troika.

Regarding how we will vote on Saturday - this is a matter that we are constantly discussing with other members of the P5 and other non-permanent members of the Security Council. In the end, our vote will be influenced by our view of a genuine attempt to find a meeting of minds on the way forward.

South Africa is not the only country which suggested amendments to the resolution. There are other countries who have also suggested amendments. I cannot but overstretch this point, if we are not able to put forward our views on a document that we have not seen and to which we have received no explanations, why would be accept such a document without discussions and explanations.

We would not be part of any multilateral grouping if it has to be that we must simply accept any document that is put before us. There must at least be some explanation to some of our concerns by those proposing the draft text.

The Russian Prime Minister and my Russian counterpart were in South Africa a few days ago. This was followed by the visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister. We are also in touch with the Chinese. We are in constant touch with the Director-General of the IAEA. Our envoy in New York is in touch with the P5+Germany. However, despite these discussions, we had not seen the draft resolution until it was presented to the Security Council. It is therefore not incorrect to voice our views where necessary and look for clarification and explanations.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, you criticized the opposition of governments outside of Africa towards Zimbabwe without indicating what Africa is doing. Could you please contextualize this? On the DRC, is Mr Bemba still at the South African Embassy? Has he asked for any assistance?

Answer Mr Bemba is still in the South African compound.

I have dealt with the first question.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, has the South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe met with the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai? What is South Africa's position on the Zimbabwean Foreign Minister saying that foreign diplomats should not have any contact with members of the opposition?

Answer The South African High Commission has met, as is consistent with our policy, with Mr Tsvangirai. As I have indicated, we have consistently met with all sectors of Zimbabwean society, sometimes even more than with the government of Zimbabwe.

Our High Commissioner is in touch with civil society, with religious leaders and their initiative of the "Zimbabwe we Want", the "Free Zimbabwe grouping", academics and other sections of the Zimbabwe political and business community. So he has met Mr Tsvangirai. We are awaiting his report whereupon we will decide on how to proceed.

I must say that in South Africa Ambassadors are allowed and encouraged to meet with all sectors of South African society. Our democracy encourages such interaction. South Africa has the biggest diplomatic representation in the world outside of the US and some European countries.

I am not sure if under the Geneva Convention you are able to disallow diplomats from meeting others in the country unless it can be shown that such a diplomat is a threat to the stability of the country and is interfering in the internal affairs of that country.

We have made a statement on the violence that has occurred in Zimbabwe. The ANC has made its own statement. We have expressed our concern and asked for international law to be respected and for the conditions for reconciliation and dialogue to be created.

When we say the conditions must be created for the Zimbabweans to find a solution, it does not mean that we sit back and watch. It means we encourage them as a Zimbabweans to formulate a roadmap that the international community generally, SADC and the AU in particular, can assist the Zimbabweans to implement. Clearly dialogue is absolutely necessary in Zimbabwe and has been necessary for some time now.

The economic situation is very dire with unprecedented high levels of inflation and not sufficient foreign direct investment into Zimbabwe. The Reserve Bank governor two months ago indicated the seriousness of the situation based on various factors, including policies that were implemented incorrectly in Zimbabwe. It is all on the table. It would sometimes be good to follow these developments to see how we can assist. We will be seized with how we can assist the people of Zimbabwe and convince the international community on how we can change track on how to deal with situations of crisis and conflict in Zimbabwe and other countries in Africa.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, can you tell us if South Africa will take any extra steps regarding Iran?
Answer South Africa does not have any illusions that it can do anything more than what is being done by the P5+Germany, the UN Security Council and the IAEA. As members of the IAEA we have always insisted that the IAEA with the correct scientific expertise is the body best placed to deal with the matter. The IAEA remains seized with the matter.

The Iranians have been quite strident in their views on the UN Security Council resolution. They are threatening retaliation and while they have not said what they will do, it is easy to predict. They may walk out of the IAEA and/or prevent IAEA observers from being in Iran. The tensions in the region are escalating at every moment.

Our intention, as should be that of the P5+Germany, is to find a solution that will not further exacerbate the tensions.

Announcement of newly appointed South African Heads of Mission (Director-General Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba)

Country: Republic of Namibia

Nominee: Ambassador Eunice Valerie Komane


Ambassador Komane was born on 9 June 1941 in Kroonstad, Free State. After completing her High School studies, she pursued a nursing career and obtained General Nursing and Midwifery courses; as well as a degree in Nursing from the University of South Africa.

Ambassador Komane worked as a General Nurse and later a Nursing Sister from 1972- 1990 in Kimberly and Bethlehem respectively. She was later appointed as a Nursing Tutor also in Kimberly where she served from 1991 -1994. She was appointed MEC for Safety and Security, Public Works and Gender Issues in the Northern Cape Provincial Government from 1994 - 1999.She represented the Northern Cape in the South African delegation to the 4th UN World Conference on Women in Beijing.

Ambassador Komane has been an active member of the ANC Women's League and has served as Chairperson of the ANCWL Northern Cape region in 1992, 1993, and 1995. She was appointed South African High Commissioner to Botswana in 2002, where she is currently serving

Country: Democratic Republic of Congo

Nominee: Reverend (Dr) Molefe Samuel Tsele


Reverend Tsele was born on 7 December 1956 and is married with three children. He matriculated at Mabuya High School in Daveyton in 1976. He obtained a Bachelor of Theology (1980) and Honours (1989) from the University of South Africa. He later obtained a Master of Theology in Political Ethics (1991) as well as a PhD (1995) from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, USA.

Rev Tsele served as a Parishioner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Soweto from 1981 to 1989 until he was placed under a banning order under the State of Emergency Regulations of 1986. He later went to pursue his Theology studies abroad. On his return, he briefly worked as a Lecturer at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Maphumulo (July 1995 - March 1996). He was later appointed as Executive Director of the Ecumenical Service for Social Economic Transformation (ESSET) from April 1996 to December 1999.

He joined the Office of the Premier of the Northwest Government in January 2001 where he served as Special Advisor to Premier Popo Molefe until April 2001. Rev Tsele was appointed as General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches where he served from May 2001 - March 2006. He is currently the Political Advisor to the Premier of North West Ms Edna Molewa.

Rev Tsele involvement in community work has afforded him opportunities to take part in several SA Observer Missions, including inter alia, as member of the SA Observer Mission to Zimbabwean Presidential Elections; Head of SA Observer Mission to the Palestinian Parliamentary Elections ; and recently member of SA Observer Mission to the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Country: Republic of Botswana

Nominee: Ambassador Dikgang Moopeloa


Ambassador Moopeloa was born in Bloemfontein, Free State. After completing his High School studies, he enrolled at Wits Technikon where he obtained an Advanced Certificate in Personnel Management. During his time in exile, he served as Administrator and Commander at the Botswana Transit Camp. On his return from exile, he served as Political Education Officer and Trainer for the ANC PWV Region.

He joined the South African Police Services (SAPS) in 1994 and served in many capacities focussing on Policy Formulation and Administration; as well as Operational Planning and Technical Support. After leaving the SAPS, he joined Zonkizizwe Group as Group General Manager. He was appointed South African Ambassador to United Arab Emirates in 2002 , a position he currently holds.

Country: Republic of Mexico

Nominee: Mr Mohakama Nyangweni Mbete

Mr Mphakama Mbete matriculated at St Francis College in Marianhill in Natal. He enrolled for a BSc degree at the University of Fort Hare in 1971 and was a very active member of the South African Student's Organisation. Due to his involvement in political activities, he could not complete his degree and later went into exile. Whilst in exile he completed a Diploma in Political Science at the Academy of Social Sciences in Bulgaria (1984) and an Advanced Diploma in Institutional Development in London (1994).

Mr Mbete has served the ANC in many capacities including as Project Officer at the ANC Office in Swaziland (1976 -1977); Information Officer / Journalist at the ANC Office in Tanzania (1977); Senior Member of the Department of Intelligence in Maputo and Zambia respectively (1980 -1985); Administrator of the ANC Office in Harare (1989 -1991). On his return from exile, Mr Mbete worked as regional Co-ordinator for the South African Committee for Higher Education (SACHED). He later moved to the National Intelligence Agency and served as Manager for domestic intelligence. In 2001, he was tasked to spearhead the establishment of the South African National Academy for Intelligence, an institution he is now heading.


Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
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23 March 2007


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