Notes following media briefing by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr N.C. Dlamini Zuma and Her Sudanese counterpart, Dr Deng Alor Kuol

Comments by Minister Dlamini Zuma

First thanks for your interest in Sudan obviously.

We were very pleased to welcome the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sudan even though we meet with him in many fora but it’s his first official visit as Foreign Minister to South Africa. We were pleased to welcome him and his delegation and we had a very fruitful discussion.

We discussed mainly our bilateral cooperation and of course the situation in Sudan and a bit about our own. We shared views on how to strengthen our bilateral relations and also to how try and get economic cooperation, get our business people to go to Sudan and invest where possible, trade and so on.

We also discussed the capacity building programmes that we have. We also discussed the issues of looking at development together with other countries, the Minister will expand. We also discussed the Darfur situation and the general political situation in Sudan and the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. So we really had quite a wide ranging discussion.

Ands I will give the Minister the opportunity to expand where he thinks we should expand.

He is really welcome and we appreciate that he is here.

Comments by Minister Deng Alor Kuol

“Thanks you Minister.

I am very grateful that I got this opportunity to come to South Africa on an official visit, as the Minister said, to discuss bilateral issues between the two countries. As you know South Africa is involved in the post-war reconstruction of Southern Sudan and other areas that were affected by the war.

South Africa is also involved in capacity building in the southern parts of Sudan. We want to expand this to include the rest of the country including the northern parts of the country. We have also discussed issues connected with the development.

The Government of Sudan is getting into strategic partnership with a number of countries, Norway, United States and South Africa. So it is one of the issues we also discussed,

We discussed also business opportunity in the Sudan particularly in the south. There is going to be delegation that will come soon from the Government of Southern Sudan to come and meet with business community here in South Africa. We want to attract business to the South. But we also discussed political issues.  As you know we have two central issues that occupy our time in Sudan, that is the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was signed by the Government of Sudan and the SPLM in January 2005. I briefed the Minister about how the implementation is going on and we have covered a lot of ground in the implementation process.

We have also discussed the situation in Darfur. As you know we have been following developments there. A few days ago there was a meeting between the Government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Doha, Qatar where we managed to arrive at limited agreement called the Agreement for Confidence Building between the Government and the JEM.

 We also discussed the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its implications. As you know ICC has decided to indict Al Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan. This is the first time in history for the seating Head of State to be indicted by the International Court. We have worked together with South Africa and within the African Union to try to defer the indictment of the President. We have not succeeded but still working, if we can be able to get deferment for the warrant of arrest against President al Bashir.

The African Union has come up with the resolution on this talking about the deferment, asking the Security Council to defer this. And also saying that they cannot also condone impunity   but also calling on the government of Sudan to bring to justice those people accused of having committed crimes in Darfur. The position of the AU was arrived at after a very long discussion. South Africa played a very central role in that. South Africa continues to play a very central role in trying to help the Sudan for Sudan to get the postponement of the warrant of arrest for at least one year. Because one year could give Sudan time… (inaudible) in Darfur

So the role of South Africa has been very central and commendable and we really appreciate what South Africa is doing.

So these are some of the issues that we really discussed with the Minister”

Questions and Answers

Question:     You said that you need more time referring to the ICC indictment to address issues in Darfur - could you elaborate on that please, as well as on the Qatar meeting?

Answer:        (Minister Alor Kuol) We are saying we are asking for one year for postponement because this will give us time to work for peace in Darfur which we have already started with one movement, in Darfur we have many movements, more than ten about fifteen. The strongest among them on the ground is JEM.  It is JEM that has accepted to sit with the Government to start negotiations with the government. This does not mean that others are not going to be there, we are inviting others to come to the next round to join JEM. The position of the Government of Sudan is that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Darfur is again not for one or two or three organisations but for everybody because if we want peace it should be comprehensive. That is the position of the Government. Those who responded, the response was overwhelming to our call. Others we are still working talking to them indirectly through some friends and organisations so that they can come. The next round is going to be in weeks hopefully. The Doha Agreement, as I said, is an agreement for confidence building it’s just the beginning. When you are fighting a bitter war you need to rebuild confidence between you and the other side. So it’s not an agreement that address major issues but an agreement that addresses confidence.

The impact of warrant of arrest issue if it happens, President Al Bashir is not going to be arrested just like that. He will not be arrested because the Sudanese don’t want him arrested because he is inside Sudan and as long as he is inside Sudan and there is no decision by any body to hand him over, he will… (inaudible) inside the Sudan.

There will be negative consequences of course for that warrant of arrest but we are still discussing those consequences, what they could be politically. Sudan has a fragile political situation where we have war in Darfur and where we are implementing an agreement between the North and the South and we have to address the longest war in Africa. So the situation is fragile but we are trying to make sure that the agreement is not fundamentally or negatively impacted on. I cannot exactly tell you much this thing is going to negatively impact on our political situation but definitely it will impact on the political situation.

Question:     Question to both Ministers – may I ask the impact of the election of Colonel Qadhaffi as the Chairman of the African Union on the protocols of democracy in the African Union?

Answer:        (Minister Dlamini Zuma) First of all as you know there is a rotation system in the AU, with different regions, so it was the turn of the north to chair the AU and the north agreed on Brother Leader (Col. Qadhaffi) so he was elected. And the good thing about the AU like any other organisation is that we have we have our Constitutive Act, which is our constitution. We also have our procedures, our rules and any Chair of the AU has to follow those. So it doesn’t matter who chairs. In terms of those rules and regulation and the Constitutive Act they have to be followed.  But because people have different styles and different interests so that will also play out.

Question:     What is South Africa view on the warrant of arrest? Does South Africa support the African Union position?

Answer:        (Minister Dlamini Zuma) Well our view is that we don’t’ condone impunity, we should deal with impunity but at the same time peace is very important for the people of Sudan as a whole, Darfur in particular. So we have to give the people of Sudan a chance for peace and therefore we have been supporting the deferment so that the peace process can proceed but at the same time Sudan can demonstrate that it’s not for impunity.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X 152
Pretoria
0001

20 February 2009

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