West and Central Africa

Central Africa

The current most important issues with regard to the Central African Region are conflict resolution, promotion of good governance, peace and stability as well as economic reconstruction and development. In this regard, the specific challenges facing South Africa are to assist in the resolution of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through the comprehensive implementation of the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement.

In support of this, four senior officials of the South African Government form part of the Third Party Verification Mechanism (TPVM), which acts as the Secretariat for the Third Party, created by the Pretoria Agreement between Rwanda and the DRC. This agreement makes provision for the withdrawal of Rwandan troops from the territory of the DRC and the dismantling of ex-FAR and Interahamwe forces in the DRC.

South Africa has committed itself to participate in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the DRC (MONUC). At this stage, 98 Technical Specialists of the South African National Defence Force and 48 Military Police are deployed in the DRC. South Africa has also hosted the Inter-Congolese Dialogue at Sun City where all the role-players in the DRC participated in negotiations on a new political dispensation for their country.

On 16 December 2002, with South Africa as a mediator together with a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General, all parties to the Inter-Congolese dialogue signed a Global and Inclusive Agreement on the Transition in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In addition to the above, other challenges include the promotion of the values of democracy and good governance and the implementation of sound stable economic policies. The reconstruction and development of the economy and infrastructure of the DRC, once the conflict has been resolved, will play a central role in South Africa’s policy in the Region. Positive developments in the DRC will have a similar influence on the Region. Stability in the DRC/Great Lakes Region will also greatly enhance the potential for the implementation of NEPAD programmes.

South Africa also supports the promotion of peace and stability in Central African Republic and Republic of Congo (Brazzaville).

The other main priorities for South Africa are the further development and consolidation of its trade and economic relations with the countries of the region.

West Africa

The principal challenges facing the West African sub-region are those of conflict management, good governance and democracy and sustainable economic and social development. In terms of conflict management, the crisis in the Mano River Union (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea) remains of concern. The sub-region also experiences a secessionist conflict in the southern Senegalese province of Casamance, as well as an international territorial dispute, namely the dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over the Bakassi peninsula. The Mano River Union region, which has not yet recovered from the effects of long years of conflict, continues to see significant levels of displaced populations from the three states. The ECOWAS sub-region, supported by the OAU, is leading efforts to find solutions to conflict issues. South Africa endorses these ECOWAS efforts and continues to play a key role in addressing the issue of "conflict diamonds", through the Kimberley process, which seeks to end the use of illicit diamonds fuelling conflict, particularly in relation to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

In terms of democracy and good governance, South Africa actively supports initiatives aimed at promoting these ideals in West Africa and welcomes the successful democratic elections held in Mali and Sierra Leone during the month of May 2002. South Africa also continues to work closely with West African partners such as Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana and Mali in promoting the aims and objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The main economic and social development challenge remains poverty and lack of development in the sub-region. In this regard, South Africa is actively involved in the search for solutions to these problems, inter alia within the context of the vision of the African Renaissance and the objectives of NEPAD. There continues to be a steady increase in investments and bilateral trade with the region as well as an impetus towards having more structured official relationships with key West African state

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa