North Africa and The Horn

For the purposes of the Department of Foreign Affairs this region comprises fourteen countries of which nine are defined as North Africa and five as Horn of Africa. These countries stretch from Mauritania in the West through to Somalia in the East.

South African enjoys a special relationship with the countries of the region. This is epitomised by Joint Commissions held annually with three countries at Ministerial level (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia), and an annual Binational Commission at Presidential level with Algeria. Negotiations for a suitable date for the inaugural Joint Commission with Libya is in the process of being finalised.

North African countries represent the largest economies in Africa apart from South Africa and Nigeria. Thus, the region will be crucial in the realisation of the objectives espoused by the Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Programme (MAP) and the African Renaissance. Through the Magreb Arab Union (UMA), North African countries are trying to organise themselves into a political and economic union, but the Western Sahara issue is impeding an effective union. The Western Sahara issue remains a source of political tension in the region. Peaceful settlement of this dispute according to the UN Settlement Plan or a mutually acceptable alternative solution will clear the way for a better regional co-operation and integration.

The Horn region represents one of the most daunting challenges to the continent and the international community. The region is characterised by cases of both intrastate and interstate conflicts, the seventeen-year-old Sudanese civil war, the interstate conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea and anarchy in Somalia constituting a conundrum for the continent and international community at large.

The Sudanese civil war that has been raging for seventeen years has in recent months gained increasing continental and international attention. South Africa as a firm supporter of the IGAD led peace process (as espoused by the agreed upon Declaration of Principles signed by the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A in 1994), is exploring possible ways to assist in the search for a comprehensive negotiated peace settlement.

Following the two-year border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, South Africa has seconded a number of South African National Defense Force officers as part of UNMEE/OLMEE observer and Peace- keeping force. It should be noted however, that tension continues between the two states on a variety of issues relating to the demarcation process of the common border.

South Africa supports efforts at re-emergence of a semblance of governance in Somalia that culminated in the appointment of a Transitional National Assembly (TNA) led by President Hassan Salat. South Africa calls upon the TNA and all other role-players in greater Somalia to continue engaging in an all-inclusive process towards reconciliation and mutually beneficial re-establishment of effective governance in all parts of Somalia.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa