Notes following briefing to media by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Tuesday 29 January 2008

Good afternoon and welcome,
I’m reliably informed by Mr Mamoepa that we have two briefings a week now, one supposedly the general briefing and the one the Security Council briefing.  Sometimes there will be an overlap.  Let me start with the AU Executive Council meeting and Summit.

AU EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AND SUMMIT
Minister Dlamini Zuma today 29 January 2008, in her capacity as Chairperson hosted a meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development in Sudan on the margins of the Executive Council.

The Ministerial Committee on Sudan is chaired by our Minister and consists of Foreign Ministers of Algeria, Gabon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, the Sudan.
Its mandate is to:
Asses the needs and the magnitude of the post conflict challenges in Sudan;
Mobilise, as broadly as possible, African support for post conflict reconstruction and development in Sudan;
Sensitise the international community about the magnitude of post conflict reconstruction in Sudan and mobilise their support accordingly.  This session will however also assess developments in Sudan including the operalisation of the AU-UN hybrid force for Darfur (UNAMID) that became effective on 31 December 2007.

Minister Dlamini Zuma will also participate in the launch of the Report of the International Workshop on Enhancing UN Support for Security Sector Reform (SSR) in Africa: Towards an African Perspective.  This is all on top of the normal work of the Executive Council.

President Mbeki left this morning and is expected to arrive in Addis Ababa sometime today.

This summit has special importance because as you know the theme for the Summit is “Industrial Development in Africa.”   As you also know as the Summit convenes we have reached the half way stage of the achievement of the MDGs.

In 2000 almost all the major leaders of the world gathered at the United Nations to adopt the historic Millennium Summit Declaration.  This Declaration proclaimed among other things that, “we believe that the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world’s people. For, while globalization offers great opportunities, at present its benefits are very unevenly shared, while its costs are unevenly distributed. We recognize that developing countries and countries with economies in transition face special difficulties in responding to this central challenge. Thus, only through broad and sustained efforts to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity, can globalization be made fully inclusive and equitable.”

The Summit most importantly resolved to, inter alia, halve by the year 2015, the proportion of the world’s people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and, by the same date, to halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water.  By the same date, to have reduces maternal mortality by three quarters, and under-five child mortality by two-thirds, of their current rates.  To have, by then, halted and begun to reverse, the spread of HIV and AIDS, the scourge of malaria and other major diseases that afflict humanity.  All indications are that the vast majority of African countries will not meet many and in some cases most of the MDGs. 
The Secretary General of the United Nation, Mr Ban Ki-moon stated on Friday that “We are at the mid-point of a great campaign to end world poverty, set forth in the Millennium Development Goals. Too many nations have fallen behind. This September, the UN will host a high-level meeting on the MDGs, with a special focus on Africa. The aim is to bring together world leaders and, together, demand action. The fight against global poverty and human suffering is a moral imperative.”   This AU Summit will have substantive discussions on building Africa’s industrial base with all the issues that impact on this process.  

It is common cause that lack of industrialisation in Africa has contributed to its current slow rate of economic growth, and that the continent continues to lag behind industrially, contributing less than 1% of global manufacturing. Despite its natural resource endowment, Africa continues to be poor. This is partly because Africa still has difficulty of converting its abundant raw materials into finished products. However, there is great potential for the continent to reverse this situation. Africa needs to urgently enhance its efforts to add value to its raw materials to increase its global competitiveness.   To achieve this objective there are vital conditions to be met, including greater political support for Africa’s industrial development agenda. It is within this context that the Extraordinary Session of the Conference of African Minister’s of Industry was held in Midrand, South Africa from 24-27 September 2007. The Conference elaborated a Medium-Term Strategy for Africa’s industrialisation developed a Plan of Action to drive the implementation of the Medium Term Strategy for Africa’s industrialisation.   The Conference agreed on a Draft Plan of Action for Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa, which will be submitted to the Summit for approval. This Plan of Action identifies priority areas for action to unlock Africa’s industrial development, and a series of activities at the national, regional, continental and international levels to kick-start Africa’s industrialisation.   

The Summit will look at industrial development of Africa and progress made including the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) launched by the Ghanaian President, current Chairperson of the African Union HE John Agyekum Kufuor and the South African President Thabo Mbeki, and has so far mobilised close to $625 million that will be used to finance continental projects under the AU development flagship programme, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad).   What is significant about this is that it’s for the first time Africans are using African money mainly the pension funds to fund our own developmental programme on the basis of this.  South Africa and Ghana have made firm commitments to the PAIDF and other African governments have expressed interest in making contributions pending legislation from their individual parliaments, allowing them to make the necessary payments. The South African government has also mobilised the private sector to partner the continental effort of ensuring that African countries take ownership of their developmental initiatives and squaring up to challenges facing the continent.
We ofcourse hope that the Summit will look at the reality that the DOHA round of negotiations have still not been completed and we believe that Summit must take decisions on how to ensure that we do get the Doha round of negotiations completed.  In this context I believe it is important that the developed countries’ agricultural subsidies which makes it very difficult for developing countries generally and African countries specifically to compete with the developed countries agricultural products have to be looked at very seriously,  and their non-tariff restrictions on African exports be addressed urgently.

The Summit will also consider the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements
(EPAs) with the APC countries.   You know that the original Lome agreement between the European Union and the APC countries has come to an end, and now in terms of the WTO new negotiations have to be undertaken.  As you know from our last briefing there has been lots of disquiet in Africa, Asia, the Africa Pacific and the Caribbeans about how these negotiations have been conducted.  We do believe that any final agreement must be mutually benefitial.  There was a need to revisit the Partnership with a view to ensuring that maximal benefits were derived out of the EPA process in a way to ensure that the end product was of mutual benefit to all and entailed a holistic approach to development on the continent;  While the Joint Strategy indicated that both sides stressed the need for the EPA process to be supportive of Africa’s regional and continental integration agenda on the basis of the Abuja Treaty. The path pursued thus far had not appeared to support the principles and objectives encapsulated in the Joint Strategy; There was a need to ensure that the cooperation with the EU through the EPAs did not undermine regional integration efforts;  The African Europe Summit concluded that a meeting of African and European Minister of Trade and Finance should be held by February 2008 in order to find a consensus position on how to take the EPAs negotiations forward.   We are also expecting the visit of the commissioner Barrosso to further discuss the EU’s EPA with the APC countries.  It is clear that Summit will have to look at this matter because many of our countries have already signed the agreement pending further negotiations.

NEPAD

A NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee Meeting (HSGIC) will take place on the margins of the Assembly on 30 January 2008 and will also impact on the theme of the Summit.

The issues to be discussed during the HSGIC meeting are:
(i) Progress in the operalisation of NEPAD priority programmes
(ii) Upcoming African Partnership Forum meeting in April 2008
(iii) TICAD IV Summit (Tokyo International Conference on African Development)
(iv) Review progress of NEPAD integration into the African Union.
(v) Ministerial Committee of Ten on the Union Government

At the Summit in Ghana [2007] the Accra Declaration was adopted in which they reiterated their desire for a United States of Africa, with a Union Government, as the ultimate objective of the African Union; the need for common responses to the major challenges of globalisation facing the Continent; as well as the boosting of regional integration processes through an effective continental mechanism.   Through the Declaration, the Assembly agreed to accelerate the economic and political integration of the Continent, including the formation of a Union Government for Africa, with the ultimate objective of creating the United States of Africa.
In order to achieve this Union Government, the Assembly agreed on the following steps:
(a) Rationalise and strengthen Regional Economic Communities (REC’s) including their harmonisation, in an effort to create an African Common Market;
(b) Establish a Ministerial Committee and hold a meeting regarding Union Government so as to permit Ministers to:
(i) Elaborate the concept of a Union Government, including its relations with national governments;
(ii) Identify the areas of competence and activities to be entrusted to the Union Government as well as the impact of the measure on national sovereignty;
(iii) Define the relationship between the Union Government and the REC’s;
(iv) Elaborate an appropriate roadmap and timeframe for establishing the Union Government; and
(v) Propose additional sources for funding the activities of the Union.

The Committee of Ten is composed of South Africa and Botswana from the Southern region, Libya and Egypt from the North, Gabon and Cameroon from the Central region, Ethiopia and Uganda from the East and Nigeria and Senegal from the West.   The Committee under the chair of Ghana has completed its work and the report will be submitted to the Executive Council to make appropriate recommendation to the Summit.

The second big issue is the High Level Panel for the Audit of the African Union These were to Conduct an Audit of the Executive Council in terms of Article 10 of the Constitutive Act, the Commission as well as the other organs of the AU; [Accra Declaration].
The High Level Panel for the Audit of the African Union has concluded
Consultations with various organs of the African Union including the PAP and
representatives of RECs and member states. This report too will be submitted to the Executive Council to make appropriate recommendation to the January 2008 Session of the Assembly.

The High Level Panel was established by President Kufuor, the current
Chairperson of the AU, and it comprises the following persons:
 Prof. Adedeji Adebayo (Nigeria)
Dr. Frene Ginwala (South Africa),
Dr Fatima Karadja (Algeria),
Amb. Vijay Makan (Mauritius),
Dr. Makan Saar (Senegal),
Prof. Abdala Bujra (Kenya),
Fahan Bendara   (Libya),
Mr. Akere Muna (Cameroon),
Madam Gilenga (Congo),
Mrs. Netungo Nandi (Namibia),
Amb. Abendenga   (Ghana),
Prof. Olukosi (Council for the Development of Social Science Research in
Africa (CODESRIA)) 
Ben Hamuda (ECA). 

The terms of reference of the High Level Panel for the audit of the African Union, include a comprehensive audit of the African Union Commission and all its programmes and organs in terms of Article 10 of the Constitutive Act (related to the composition of the Executive Council), with a view to facilitating continental economic and political integration.  The Panel conducted a thorough assessment over a four month period and produced a report containing 159 specific recommendations.

The General Objectives of the Audit were to:
Evaluate the African and political and economic integration agenda and existing and ongoing  reviews on political and economic integration by the Commission as well as other AU Organs and Regional Economic Communities (RECs);
Review the operation of the Commission as well as other AU organs and the RECs as presently constituted with a view to identifying the weaknesses and strengths in their functioning and aligning them with the realities of political and economic integration;
Review the structures and processes of the various Organs and Institutions of the AU with a view to promoting efficiency and coherence in the functioning of the various Organs;
Review the nature and relationship between the various Organs and Institutions of the AU and with other relevant continental Organisations, and indicate the nature and character of Inter-Organs relationships and relations with other Institutions, which will help accelerate the integration process;
Review global trends with respect to political and economic integration, outline the specific and general challenges confronting the African integration process;
Make concrete recommendations on the policies, strategic orientations, Institutions and structures, programmes, roadmaps and possible scenarios required to accelerate economic and political integration; and
Assess the efficiency of the AU in the maintenance of peace in the Continent.

The Panel constituted four Working Groups to deal with the following
interrelated teams:
The Abuja Treaty, the Constitutive Act and the Political and Economic integration process;
The African Union Commission and Financing activities of the Union
The African Union Organs: The Assembly, the Executive Council, the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC), the Peace and Security council (PSC), the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) and other organs (yet to be established);
the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and affiliated agencies like the African Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA
Election of the Chair and Deputy Chair

The other area which is of significance is that the Assembly has sole authority to elect the Chair and Deputy Chair of the African Union Commission. Once the Assembly has elected a Chair and Deputy Chair, the Executive Council convenes to election Commissioners.
Candidates for position of AU Chairperson
Dr Inonge MBIKUSITA-LEWANIKA         Zambia
Mrs. Antoinette BATUMUBWIRA              Burundi
Mr. Abdulai Osman CONTEH                   Sierra Leone
Mr. Jean PING                                              Gabon

Mr. Cassam UTEEM the candidate from Mauritius has withdrawn his candidature.

Candidates for position of Deputy Chairperson
Dr Khair Eldin ABDEL LATIF                    Egypt
Mr Eratus J P MWENCHA                          Kenya

Election of Commissioners
A Ministerial Committee of ten on the Pre-selection, Selection and Elections of the Members of the Commission on which South Africa and Angola for the Southern region served met twice in Addis Ababa to consider the short listing of candidates nominated for the position of AU Commissioners.
The AU Commissions are:
Peace and Security
Political Affairs
Infrastructure and Energy
Social Affairs
Human Resources, Science and Technology
Trade and Industry
Rural Economy and Agriculture
Economic Affairs
Commissioners are elected by the Executive Council and then submitted to the Assembly for appointment.  Elections will have to take into consideration gender and regional representation.  Election of Members of the Peace and Security Council.  Members are elected by the Assembly of the African Union so as to reflect regional balance within Africa, as well as a variety of other criteria, including capacity to contribute militarily and financially to the union, political will to do so, and effective diplomatic presence at Addis Ababa.  The AU like many countries and South Africa has adopted a gender equality policy and this impacts on how the elections are undertaken.

The council is composed of fifteen countries, of which five are elected to three-year terms, and ten to two-year terms. Countries are immediately re-eligible upon the expiration of their terms.

Members of the Peace and Security Council are also supposed to be elected, and this year there are only two positions coming up for elections for 2008
North Africa:  Tunisia, Libya.
Southern Africa:  Swaziland and Zambia.

This is an important Summit we believe.  Besides the other matters that Summit has to decide the budget, as you know five countries in the whole continent, that is South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Lybia and Algeria account for 75% of the AU budget presently, and it is expected that other countries who have recently shown economic growth because of the commodity prices will be expected to make a greater contribution to the budget of the AU.  We believe that this is important because in the final analysis if we do not fund our own organisation it is difficult take decisions that are in the interest only of Africa.

DRC

On the Democratic Republic of Congo, the South African Government welcomes the successful conclusion of the Reconciliation Conference in the DRC.  On 24 January 2008 the closing ceremony and signing of the Engagement Act took place in Goma, North Kivu, and was attended by the diplomatic corps, some Special Envoys, and many Congolese national and provincial leaders. The working groups of the Conference will continue for the next few weeks to reach resolutions, decisions and documents on the various issues not covered in the text.

The Engagement Act

Article 1: The ceasefire
Immediate and total stoppage:
of hostilities across the North Kivu province;
of any acts of violence;
of all military movements and reinforcements;
as well as any new recruitment.

As of the signing of this Engagement Act, a written formal order to stop hostilities will be given to our respective troops, with a copy addressed to MONUC.

Abstain from committing harmful acts to hamper peace and security, notably:
any attacks, aggression, acts of provocation or sabotage;
holding speech or statements likely to favour reprisal of hostilities;
any attempt to occupy new positions on the ground and movements of forces and of military equipment from an area to another;
supply in arms, ammunitions and other military equipment;
any action likely to undermine the development of the peace and security process in the North Kivu.

Article 2: Disengagement of troops of the CNDP, PARENCO/N-K, MAI MAI KASINDIEN, MAI MAI KIFUAFUA, MAI MAI VURONDO, MAI MAI MONGOL, UJPS, MAI MAI RWENZORI and SIMBA; creation of demilitarised zones for the FARDC; Integration and PNDDR;
A joint technical commission on peace and security, under the joint chairmanship of the Government and the International Community’s facilitation, will be formally established by the Government to look into and finalise the following questions, mainly:
Formal order to troops to stop hostilities on all military grounds;
Geographical localisation of armed groups (their exact positions on a map);
Determination of disengagement and buffer zones;
Deployment of MONUC observers to look after the ceasefire;
Reinforcement of MONUC presence for the safety of civilians and for the monitoring of redeployment operation of the armed groups troops as well as CNDP’s;
Start implementing the joint statement of Nairobi on the disarmament and repatriation of foreign armed troops;
Definition of the itinerary of the redeployment of armed groups towards the transit centres (1st movement) and towards integration / demobilisation centres (2nd movement);
Determination of integration modalities; in consideration of the presence of the foreign armed groups targeted by the Nairobi Joint Statement of 9 November 2007;
Deployment of MONUC on the areas formerly occupied by CNDP, PARECO/NK, MAI MAI KASINDIEN, MAI MAI KIFUAFUA, MAI MAI VURONDO, MAI MAI MONGOL, UJPS, MAI MAI RWENZORI and SIMBA;
Deployment of MONUC troops in the territories abandoned by the CNDP and the armed groups;  [This part has been deleted]
Restoration of State authority (Police, administration and justice);
Integration in the army;
Demobilisation and social reinsertion;
Comply with DDR activities deriving either from integration in the framework of integration into the FARDC or to demobilisation and reinsertion within the framework of total return to civilian life, essential step in the peace and security process in the North Kivu province.

Total participation of CNDP, PARECO/NK, MAI MAI KASINDIEN, MAI MAI KIFUAFUA, MAI MAI VURONDO, MAI MAI MONGOL, UJPS, MAI MAI RWENZORI and SIMBA in accordance with national laws, into the implementation of the integration plan of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and into the National Programme of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reinsertion (PNDDR).
Communication of the list of personnel and weapons as well as their locations, as of the signing of this Act, in accordance with the timeline drafted by the ad hoc Commission with the International Community’s assistance.

To this effect, the two following sub-commissions will be established:
Joint Military sub-commission, tasked with:
disengagement;
integration;
demobilisation; and
social reinsertion
Humanitarian and Social sub-commission, tasked with:
issues pertaining to internally displaced persons,
issues of refugees

Article 3: Humanitarian principles and respect of human rights
Strict compliance with the regulations of the international humanitarian rights and human rights, notably:
Stoppage of all forms of violence, exactions, discrimination and exclusion in all its forms against civilian populations, especially against women and children; elderly and disabled persons;
Liberation of detained persons or hostages kept for opinion fault or his / her belonging to insurrectional movements;
Return properties to their physical and moral persons;
Return of refugees to the country under third party’s supervision (UNHCR, DRC Government and host countries: Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania), in line with a time frame adopted by the Technical Humanitarian and Social Commission;
The setting up of a commission tasked with supervising the return of internally displaced persons and their settlement in their communities with the collaboration of the United Nations and other humanitarian organisations;
Creation of favourable conditions to provide humanitarian aid and urgent aid to civilian populations;
Prohibition of any recruitment and particular promotion of the rights of children in war-torn (or post conflict) areas;
Free circulation of properties and persons as well as suppression of road blockades.

Article IV: Political and legal guarantee measures
The DRC Government, taking note of this Engagement Act and at the request of the CNDP, PARECO/NK, MAI MAI KASINDIEN, MAI MAI KIFUAFUA, MAI MAI VURONDO, MAI MAI MONGOL, UJPS, MAI MAI RWENZORI and SIMBA;  undertakes in line with the pertinent recommendations from the Conference on Peace, Security and Development in the North Kivu and South Kivu provinces: to present a draft law on Amnesty on war deeds and insurrection, not including war crimes and crime against humanity and genocide; covering the period going from June 2003 to date when this law is promulgated; to establish a technical Commission through a decree by the President of the Republic to mainly finalise the disengagement plan, the issues pertaining to military ranks, integration and taking care of the demobilised; to abide by and comply with the ceasefire, as provided for in article 1; to create a demilitarised zone to favour deployment of MONUC observers and the safety of the returnees; to abstain from any military and logistical support to national and foreign armed groups or to request any support from the army.
the signatories of this Disengagement Act wish that international facilitators be the observers of this Act through the Technical Commission, as foreseen in article 2.

Our assessment is that this is a major development.
One of the points of deliberation during this period was the status that was to be given to the CNDP as a signatory. CNDP signed in a slightly separate category above the “Armed Groups” in recognition of its status as a politico-military organisation.

The firm statement in the text that the parties to the agreement recognise the principles of the Constitution; this will actually place pressure on the CNDP to meet the provisions of Article 7 of the Constitution and not to violate the principles or spirit of the Act. This article ensures that no political party may consist of a single ethnic group or have a particular ethnic basis, or may have a militia. CNDP will now be required to change its political objectives not to be in violation of the Act or the Constitution.
The Act provides an opportunity for the international community to assist the DRC with the implementation of the developmental objectives in the region with the assistance of the local communities.

The Act does not replace the important provisions reached through the Nairobi Communiqué. The international community will continue to support the provisions of the Communiqué to ensure that these are fully complied with by DRC and Rwanda. The FDLR will continue to be targeted for brassage, disarmament, repatriation and/or resettlement in accordance with the provisions. The informational aspects of the strategy to ensure the FDLR enters brassage are well underway, and the remainder of the programme will kick-in as the dates in the timelines are met.

With the signing of the Act, the CNDP will begin withdrawing from some of the previously disputed areas, like Mushake. The Act makes provisions for the CNDP to actually retreat to the areas held prior to the FARDC offensive, and for these “abandoned” areas to be policed and patrolled by MONUC, with the presence of the PNC. This should prevent any “ratissage”, and enable humanitarian access to IDP’s and other populations that have been caught up in the conflict zone. This will contribute to the grass-roots confidence-building measures that will have to arise to ensure that the communities accept and feel that the cease-fire agreement can ensure their security and development.
Rwanda did not attend but it did indicate to DRC and MONUC that it supported the Conference and would implement the agreements as it had done with the Communiqué.

The Secretary General of the UN is expected to travel to Rwanda shortly to ensure that momentum is maintained.

KENYA

The South African government continues to be seriously concerned about the continuing escalation of violence in Kenya and the failure to find a peaceful political solution.

As you know over the weekend it was reported that about 90 people were killed which brings the toll to about 900 people. Mr Kofi Annan who is there on behalf of the AU has warned that the turmoil triggered by Kibaki’s disputed re-election had evolved into something worse with “gross and systematic” rights abuses. He is quoted as saying that “let us not kid ourselves and think that this is an electoral problem. It’s much broader and much deeper”.  We support his call for an investigation into "gross and systematic" rights abuses in Kenya and as he has said the crisis had gone well beyond a dispute over election results. He said it is essential the facts be established and those responsible be held to account.

In a similar way African Union Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare called for a political solution in Kenya, expressing concern about post-election violence that has killed so many people.  We share his view that “we are concerned about this situation. One talks of genocide... what role did Rwanda serve? The answer cannot just be a power sharing one. If the democratic process is only about sharing the cake, we will never have peace because there will always be those who are discontented. Rather, it was necessary to "reaffirm the principles of good governance and not of indifference, to fight against violence. We cannot close our eyes and ears.”

We are also concerned that the UN genocide adviser is deeply troubled by situation in Kenya.  He believes that the destructive cycle of attacks and revenge attacks needs to be stopped immediately. He urges national and local leaders on all sides to publicly call for an end to the violence and to statements inciting violence.  According to Deng, political and community leaders may be held accountable for violations of international law committed at their instigation. In that regard, he urges them to meet their responsibility to protect the civilian population and prevent the violence.  Deng echoes High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour in calling on the Kenyan Government to abide by its international human rights obligations in responding to demonstrations, including holding police accountable for their actions.

For us what is alarming are reports of arming of militias allied to the main protagonists.
The former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, supported by former Tanzanian President Mr Benjamin Mkapa and Mrs Graca Machel are handling the mediation process in Kenya on behalf of the AU.
On Sunday evening 27 January 2008 Kofi Annan gave each side documentation that would encompass the principles of engagement:           
(1) The terms of Reference
(2) The Agenda
(3)Options of reaching a solution that is acceptable to both sides.

A team of four per side would take part in the negotiations.  The mechanisms have been set up to allow the negotiations to go on.  The mechanism has pledged to ensure that there is an independent, neutral person in the chair and that the facilitation team will remain engaged and be on the ground as and when necessary.

South Africa welcomes the statement by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 21 January 2008 inter alia expressing deep concern at the prevailing situation and its humanitarian consequences, as well as its implication for peace and stability in Kenya and the region as a whole”. 

South Africa is of the opinion that no political ambition can justify the current levels of violence and loss of lives following the elections in Kenya. We would like to call on all to rise above narrow political interests. South Africa condemns the violence and loss of life and human rights abuses and is of the view that those responsible should be identified and brought to justice. South Africa supports the AU mediation efforts and we urge all parties to commit themselves to a peaceful solution to the current crisis through dialogue.

A stable Kenya is central in that region and Africa as a whole.  We urge all parties to extend full co-operation to the mediation process of the eminent group of African leaders led by former UNSG. Kofi Annan, and established following the visit of AU Chairperson, Alpha Konare.  

BURUNDI

The Facilitator of the Burundi Peace Process, Minister Charles Nqakula accompanied by the South African Special Envoy to the Great Lakes, Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo held constructive consultations with all the stake holders involved in the Burundi Peace Process in Tanzania on 28 January 2008. He will be presenting a report to the Regional Leaders who are meeting in Addis Ababa on the 29th of January 2008.  The visit will also include a discussion on the renewal of the South African mandate as the facilitating country as well as the renewal of the mandate of Minister Nqakula as facilitator to the Burundi Peace Process.

During the AU Summit, on the fringes meetings will take place with the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Regional Initiative, President Y Museveni and President J Kikwete respectively as well as with President P Nkurunziza of Burundi, to follow up on the meetings of 28th January 2008 and to decide on the extension of the JVMM deadline.  We must remember that the Regional Initiative had initially set 31 December 2007 as the deadline for the JVMM to conclude its work. The mandate of the AU Special Task Force in Burundi which comprises of up to 1000 South African peacekeepers is also expected to be formally extended at the Summit.  So while we are concerned that it’s taken this long to get to this situation, we believe that this latest round of talks will enable us to move the process forward.

SUDAN – DARFUR:

Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Said Djinnit, the AU-UN Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Rodolphe Adada, and the Undersecretary at the Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Mutrif Siddiq met over the weekend in Addis Ababa to discuss ongoing issues related to the deployment of the joint AU-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur

The status of forces agreement (SOFA) between UNAMID and the Government topped the discussions.  Discussions were constructive and the parties indicated that they all look forward to the successful conclusion of the SOFA negotiations, as soon as possible.  High-level discussions on UNAMID’s deployment are scheduled to take place on the margins of the forthcoming AU summit in Addis Ababa.

We are concerned that the Jean-Marie Guehenno, the head of UN peacekeeping said yesterday that the strong joint UN-African Union force needed to bring peace to Sudan's remote Darfur region will take most of the year to deploy.  The troops had been scheduled to be deployed by the end of 2007, but the Sudanese government had set conditions - such as disabling their communications during security operations and banning night flights - which the UN said cast doubts on whether the force could be effective. Also not enough troops had been contributed to the force. Only 9,000 of 26,000 planned troops have been deployed so far.  And as we remember last time when we briefed you, the technical and logistical support have still not been forthcoming.  But we are happy that the UN is in talks with the Sudanese government to define the rules under which the mission could operate in Darfur, and that these meetings are said to be positive.
We call on all parties to urgently resolve all outstanding issues to enable the full deployment of the hybrid force.

MIDDLE EAST

The South African Government continues to be concerned about the worsening situation in the Middle East.  The situation in the Middle East continues to threaten regional and international peace and stability.
The South African Government has consistently condemned attacks on civilians, whether they were Palestinian or Israeli.
The continuous rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel cannot be justified in the name of the Palestinian cause.  Indeed it is against the interest of the Palestinian people and only results in massive military retaliation by the Israeli Defence Force.
We fully agree with the statement by the UNSG of Political Affairs [Mr Pascoe] to the Security Council on 22/1/2008 that he “acknowledges Israel’s security concerns….but that they did not justify disproportionate steps by the Israeli government and the Israeli Defence Force that endangered Palestinian civilians and that Israel must reconsider and cease its policy of punishing the civilian population of Gaza for the unacceptable actions of the militants.  Collective punishment are prohibited under international law…Israel must also thoroughly investigate incidents leading to civilian casualties and must ensure adequate accountability.”

The South African government is concerned that the intensified Israeli military offensive in the occupied Palestinian territory seriously jeopardise the Annapolis process and the present Palestinian –Israeli talks.

It is our view that those genuinely concerned with a long term two state solution in the interest of the Palestinian and Israeli people and for peace and stability in the region and the world must accept the view of the vast majority of the international community that the disproportionate and collective military action and blockade of Gaza by the Israeli Defence Force in response to the firing of improvised Qassam rockets into Israel is not acceptable and can not be justified on the basis of “self defence.”  Thank you.

Questions and Answers

Question:  Minister, could you just give us a brief on the South African position regarding the situation in Zimbabwe.
Answer:  The facilitation is handled by the Presidency and it’s at a very delicate situation.  If there is going to be a briefing to the SADC Troika at the Summit, we will then be mandated to give a briefing on that situation.  But you are familiar with all the developments, a law has been promulgated that the elections will take place on 29 March.  The opposition have expressed their absolute concern about that and are still considering what their response will be.  We ourselves in the context of this will have to wait for the facilitation to guide us on the way forward.

Question:  Just to ask you, you imply that the SADC Troika would be briefed on the Zimbabwe talks
Answer: I said if, then we would be briefed on what to brief you.

Question:  May I also ask in relation to Iran, I know you answered the question last week.  Last night the P5 plus one consulted with the non-permanent members about accepting the draft resolution.  I wonder if there is any decision made about this.  Just one more question, on Darfur a lot of NGOs have called on the AU to put pressure on Sudan to accept the deployment of UNAMID and there seems to be a major obstacle on this still.  I wonder if you saw any possibility of this happening.
Answer:  That’s a Security Council matter on which you’ll get a briefing on Thursday.  Let me hasten to add that for the first time that the P5 plus One have shared elements of their proposed resolution with non-permanent members.  So its early days, we are still looking at the elements that were proposed. However on the other side, ElBaradei of the IAEA has had very successful visits to Iran where he met supreme leader plus all the heads of state and others.  And in their statement they have reflected that progress has been made in the consultation with the IAEA, and that they expect that by the time they give the report in March to the IAEA board they’ll have a time frame to conclude all outstanding issues and they expect that this will be completed.  Well that’s a positive thing and that does indicate that for whatever reasons, there is movement now on trying to complete negotiations with the IAEA. If that is done, that creates a better climate to trying to find a long lasting solution.  We do hope that any action that’s taken prior to that, outside of the IAEA, by any side does not set back what is obvious progress that has been made in the consultations between the IAEA and the Iranian authorities.  We cannot afford another volatile situation in that region because, as I’ve said on many occasions, anything that goes wrong there now will make it very difficult for international peace and stability to be sustained.  So I do hope that the IAEA process can succeed.  We do hope ElBaradei gives his report in March, end of February-March, we’ll be able to say all outstanding issues have been resolved.  We’ve been calling on the Iranian authorities to fully commit themselves to resolving outstanding issues, so that we can create a better climate, confidence building measures are in place, so we can make progress.
On Sudan, its good that the NGOs are also continuing to make their voices heard.  I think all governments have expressed their concerns about the situation in Darfur and the delay in implementing the decisions of the Security Council, and the decision to deploy 26000.  I did indicate that there are differences between various parties on interpreting the Resolution.  But the latest report indicates that progress is good in the talks and things can be expected at any matters that the UN or AU think are obstacles can be resolved.  We ourselves would urge the Sudanese Government to really cooperate fully to deal with all the obstacles that the UN, AU have raised which does not make it possible for them to implement.  We will continue, we have troops there and therefore we are very keen that the full contingent of forces are in place.  But as I’ve said before in previous briefings that we are concerned that all those who promised troops have not been forthcoming with supplying those troops.  As I said earlier we are also concerned, those who got the necessary equipment seem to be slow or hesitant in providing this equipment for forces to become operationalised.  In the terrain of Darfur, which is much bigger than France, without that technical equipment numbers in itself will not be of much use to bring real peace to that region.  So we are continuing to put pressure and it would be good if the NGOs put pressure on all the troop contributing countries who said they were going to contribute, as well as the more powerful military forces to really supply the equipment they can supply.

Question: Minister, if I could just press you on Iran.  Are we of the view that further sanctions, which is what is called for in this resolution, are justified against Iran at this stage? On another issue, Muamar Ghaddafi the Lybian leader had five heads of state round yesterday, and today I believe, to talk about driving the agenda at the AU Summit.  It seems to me to be an unprecedented thing.  Were we invited to that, if not why not?  And is it something that we feel some sort of disquiet about?

Answer:  I think on the Iran issue there is a lot of speculation on what the resolution will contain.  Unnamed diplomats from the west have been quoted as saying they will go cautiously, and this is not really new further attempts to increase sanctions so we don’t really know what is contained in detail.  I said earlier that I hope any action taken outside the IAEA, and that means within the Security Council and elsewhere, does not derail what is obviously positive developments in talks between Iran and the IAEA.  We are seeking solutions, we don’t take sides in this matters, we think when there’s positive developments we should support that and encourage that.  And where there are problems we should use our own and other influence to see whether we can overcome that.  So any action that’s taken at the UN must be within the context of what is it that we are trying to achieve, and not just a punitive measure.  I’ll add to that, and we did put out a statement… when the American intelligence agency put out their statement it was quite clear, like the IAEA is saying, the American intelligence agency national estimate says they are convinced that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons programme.  Well, if that is what the American intelligence agency says, who are we to challenge that?
The meeting in Tripoli, I must say we were asked who was representing us, we have no invitation, we were not officially invited.  Well it’s a meeting, an initiative taken by some to coordinate their efforts in preparation for this Summit. It’s never happened that we go as blocks, or a grouping of blocks to go and push positions in the Summit.  There you go and listen to everything and you emerge with a position that’s an African position.  So I hope that in the end what will happen is heads of states will look at all aspects, they’ll look at the Committee of Ten report, which I think did a very good job.  They’ll look at the audit report and on the basis of the discussions in Ghana will I believe give us a lead to go forward.  We all want an African Union government leading to the united states of Africa.  But we believe that it has to be based on objective reality and it must be built on the foundations of the regional economic communities.  We all know that all our regional economic communities are not as effective as we want them to be and therefore when we take over the Chairperson of SADC sometime this year one of our priorities must be to ensure that when we launch the free-trade-area we put in lots more resources etc to make sure that this is a genuine free-trade-area that has a developmental agenda.  But without solid regional economic foundations it’s very difficult to move to the next level. And I believe the Committee of Ten report will also help the heads of state and the ministers to come to some conclusion that helps us positively to move forward.

Question:  Just some specific questions on Zimbabwe.  I know that that process is being driven by the Presidency, but as the DFA are you disappointed by the developments in Zimbabwe vis-a-vis the clashes in Harare last week when the MDC tried to protest just days after Mugabe had given approval for amendments to the security laws, and have you heard from the Presidency when talks are likely to resume?  March 29 is approaching rapidly and it does also seem another act of bad faith on the part of Mugabe to press ahead with that not taking into consideration the MDC’s issues with having the elections early.  Those two questions on Zimbabwe.  And if I could move to Kenya, you talked about the investigations or inquiries under way to determine who exactly is fuelling this violence and people will brought to account.  The violence is generated purely from the elections results, as a country does South Africa ratify the results?  In tandem with that investigation would you call for a re-election in Kenya?

Answer:  The Zimbabwean issue is a matter that we’ve been saying for many years is vital for the future of our whole region.  This is why we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time and resources to get the Zimbabweans to find a solution.  I think that talks and facilitation are of such a sensitive nature that I’d rather prefer the President to really do the briefing on Zimbabwe or his facilitator.  I don’t want to venture into the Zimbabwean situation.  But there are so many leaks in the newspapers, follow those leaks.  Everybody is leaking quite substantially to the newspapers and if you read the Zimbabwean papers, everybody is leaking.  I don’t know whether its true or not because we are not part of the facilitation process.  No we were not asked as South Africa to observe the elections.  The reality is that there are a lot of question marks about these elections of the President not of the parliament, because the Orange Party won a decisive majority in parliament.  They got 105 seats in parliament to the president’s party which got 52 or 57 seats.  So the Orange Party won decisively in the parliamentary elections.  The challenge is only on the presidential elections.  Some of the electoral commissioners of Kenya have questioned the announcement, four have resigned since.  So there is doubt about the elections expressed by key people.  It started with challenging the electoral process and therefore we must look at the totality of the problem.  But clearly the nature of the violence is going way beyond what was just a fight for power.  I did say our own position is no political aspiration can allow that political aspiration to lead to violence and killings that we are witnessing.  We cannot prescribe what the solution has to be.  We are following Kofi Annan’s initiative, he has now given three documents and we will see what comes out of the documents.  There are four aside on both sides and we hope that they meet urgently to bring about a solution.  We can’t prescribe what the final solution must be.  It’s through the mediation that what must happen must happen.

Question:  Just back on Zimbabwe, do you think our efforts there are realistic, just bearing in mind that Mugabe has backtracked on any kind of act of good faith or guarantee that he has given?  Are we fighting a losing battle in Zimbabwe and he’s gonna have his way anyway?
Answer:  We can’t fight a losing battle.  Battles are never lost until the final victory or defeat is announced.  I think the facilitation is continuing to be in touch and as I say you can read everything in the public media of what all sides are saying.  You don’t need my view on that, I’m not on the facilitation team and I’m not willing to speak on that issue until the facilitation team briefs us fully on what the situation is.

Question:  Minister two questions, one is on the presidency of the AU.  There seems to be consensus on Tanzania taking over that position but Sudan has now again pushed saying, not officially but through various officials, that we didn’t get it the last round we think it’s our time.  What is South Africa’s view on that?  And secondly on Burundi, how long do you think our troops will still be deployed there?  You said that the extension of the task force mandate will be discussed.  Is that for another six months, for another year?  I know it’s difficult to give a deadline, but what’s your view on that?

Answer:  There’s a lot of rumours about hosting, that’s a decision only heads of state take.  Even the Council of Ministers doesn’t discuss that.  It’s a decision only heads of state take in consultation and among themselves.  And so where the presidency is going to go I think will be a matter that the heads of state will discuss.  I wasn’t sure Tanzania had put themselves forward as a candidate that will host the AU.  Maybe that’s the most recent development but I wasn’t aware of it.  But I think that this is a matter that the heads of state will from today or tomorrow start consulting on in their closed meeting and will emerge with some solution that I think everybody will have to accept.  It’s difficult to say how long our troops will be in Burundi.  As I said, by the time we took over the facilitation just to bring in the Paliputu FNL we had thought that this matter had practically been resolved.  We were then asked to give support troops to protect the returning people which we have done etc.  So as soon as the FNL can come to grips with the situation that we can’t fundamentally reopen the negotiations that was completed at the Summit, now they have to see how they fit into the situation.  And if the recent report from Minister Nqakula, they are going now from Tanzania to Addis Ababa, if that can get the process going for the regional meeting again involving Tanzania and Uganda then we’ll have a better sense of whether we’ll move forward or what to do if FNL does not now enter the talks in a way to find a solution.  So our troops unfortunately have to be there until we find a solution.  If I had my way we’d declare it tomorrow but that’s wishful thinking.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
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30 January 2008


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