Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Meeting on the Great Lakes Region, 3 October 2019
At the outset let me join others in thanking the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mr Huang Xia for his informative briefing.
South Africa welcomes the improving relations and levels of cooperation amongst the core countries of the Great Lakes region. In this regard, we welcome the reinforced commitments by the regional heads of state towards a stable Great Lakes region as reflected in the rapprochement in the region. This includes the normalization of bilateral relations between Rwanda and Uganda which was mediated by Angola with the support of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
However, my delegation remains concerned with the security situation in the East of the DRC and the humanitarian situation in parts of the country which has deteriorated during the reporting period. South Africa thus underscores the need for the government of the DRC to strengthen the capacity of state institutions, with the support of MONUSCO. We therefore hope that the strategic review report reflects the aspirations of the Congolese as articulated in the DRC national statement during UNGA 74 that the FARDC training provided by MONUSCO should result in a force that is focused, well equipped and adaptable to the prevailing conditions on the ground.
My delegation is also concerned with the Ebola virus outbreak that has resulted in the loss of lives. In this regard, we commend the efforts undertaken by regional and international partners in fighting the Ebola outbreak and we further urge them to continue to assist in efforts to curb this pandemic.
Turning to the Central African Republic (CAR); we note with concern the logistical challenges that hamper the smooth implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation. We are also concerned with the activities of some non-state actors that continue to violate the provisions of the Political Agreement in some prefectures, including illegal taxation and obstruction of the deployment of State institutions and security forces. It is our hope that the easing of the arms embargo measures by this Council, in September 2019, constitutes a strong push in the multidimensional efforts to accelerate the restoration of the state authority throughout the national territory.
In spite of the challenges, we commend the cooperation and coordination between the Africa Union (AU) with ECCAS, AU and the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), Peacebuilding Commission as well as with other bilateral and multilateral partners. Furthermore, we commend the continued positive role of women in fostering local and inclusive peace processes.
It is against this backdrop that we call on development actors to continue to play a central role in building and sustaining peace in that country. This is through the creation of inclusive institutions, building capacities to deliver services and investing in critical infrastructures with a view to addressing the socio-economic gaps and to respond to the long-standing drivers of conflict. Therefore, collaboration with the World Bank, the EU, the African Development Bank, and other development actors is vital for a genuine reconciliation process in the CAR.
Burundi remains an important part to the stability of the Great Lakes region. Therefore, we continue to support the inter-Burundi dialogue, including the facilitation process led by the East African Community (EAC), in the spirit of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, with the support of the AU and the UN. It is South Africa’s hope that Burundi’s preparations for the May 2020 elections will be inclusive, transparent and peaceful.
In relation to the situation in South Sudan; my delegation welcomes the recent face to face meetings between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, we believe that they are a step in the right direction. Therefore, there is a need for continued dialogue as it will aide in unlocking the political impasse which has stalled the implementation of the Revitalised Peace Agreement.
It is our view and experience that a region that is politically stable serves as a foundation for regional economic integration. We thus reiterate our position on the need to curb persistent illicit exploitation and trade in natural resources, which undermines the proper management of these resources. In addition, it is critical to ensure that there is increased cooperation amongst Great Lakes countries in eliminating armed groups by focusing on an inclusive and coordinated SSR and DDR process.
As I conclude my remarks, South Africa welcomes the recommendations by the Secretary General that differences between signatory states of the Peace Security Cooperation Framework are best addressed through dialogue and cooperation. Thus we call on this Council to reaffirm calls for all signatories to the PSCF to implement their commitments under this Framework to ensure long term, sustainable peace and stability in the DRC and the region.
I thank you.
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