Posted by: APO | 31 May 2008

SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION TO AFRICA / PRESS CONFERENCE ON UPCOMING SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION TO AFRICA

30 May 2008

PRESS CONFERENCE ON UPCOMING SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION TO AFRICA

 
 

 

The Security Council delegation scheduled to begin a five-country mission to Africa this weekend hoped that its presence would have a strong positive impact on the region’s peace processes, stability and humanitarian conditions, Dumisani Kumalo, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, said this afternoon.

 

“The ability of the Council to appeal directly to people, not through presidential statements or resolutions this time, but face to face […] I think that has tremendous impact,” he said, speaking in particular of the delegation’s possible impact on the situation in Somalia.

 

Accompanying him at a Headquarters press conference were John Sawers of the United Kingdom, who will lead the delegation’s work on Somalia and Sudan; Michel Kafando ( Burkina Faso), who will head the mission’s visit to Côte d’Ivoire; and Jean-Maurice Ripert ( France), who will lead the team’s tours of Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

Mr. Kumalo said the delegation would start its 10-day trip in Djibouti, where talks were being held between representatives of the Transitional Federal Government of neighbouring Somalia and the opposition.  Representatives of civil society, the diplomatic community and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) would also be present.  “It’s a great opportunity for the Somalis.  They mustn’t miss this opportunity, because it may never happen again that the Council comes to a place where all of them are assembled at the same time,” he added, noting that Council members would convey to them the need to work hard in taking their country’s security and political situation to the next level.

 

Indeed, security and stability were crucial for dealing with all other aspects of the crisis in Somalia, including outside intervention, Mr. Sawers stressed.  Stability would also allow greater international assistance in all areas, particularly the dire food crisis, and facilitate contingency planning for the replacement of AMISOM by a new United Nations force.

 

After leaving Djibouti, the delegation would travel to Sudan for three days of talks with Government officials in Khartoum and Juba, Mr. Sawers said.  On that visit, the focus would return to what was needed to keep the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Southern Sudan moving forward despite recent problems there.  The Council delegation would still pay close attention to Darfur, visiting El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state and headquarters of the United Nations-African Union operation in Darfur (UNAMID), to assess the situation in the strife-torn region.

 

In neighbouring Chad, Mr. Ripert said, the delegation would visit the capital, N’Djamena, to show support for President Idriss Déby and his efforts for dialogue with opposition groups.  It would also visit camps for refugees and internally displaced persons in the far east of the country and meet local authorities near the town of Goz Beida, close to the border with Darfur.

 

He said the Council members would assert their support for the authorities in Chad and the Central African Republic, and for humanitarian workers, the United Nations Mission in Central Africa and Chad (MINURCAT) and the associated European force, EUFOR.  In addition, they planned to stress the need for a reduction in tension between Chad and Sudan through the implementation of recent agreements, and recall the Council’s condemnation of rebel activities, while calling on those armed groups to respect the obligations of agreements reached last October.

 

On 7 June, the delegation was scheduled to arrive in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, to engage in discussions with the country’s leadership, civil society and the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), and show support for crucial peacebuilding activities.  The group was also expected to visit Goma, the main town of North Kivu Province in the country’s eastern region, where they would visit a camp for refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as coordinators of the regional stabilization programme.  There, they would stress the need for militias to disarm following agreements reached recently, and underline concern over continuing violence against civilians.  They would also lend their support to all those fighting the terrible scourge of sexual violence against women and children.

 

Mr. Kafando said the last stop on the trip would be Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital, for meetings with key figures in the implementation of the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement, reached last year to end the protracted political stand-off between the West African country’s Government and the Forces Nouvelles former rebels.  That would be a crucial stage in the process, because of elections scheduled for 31 November under the Ouagadougou Agreement.  Council members would encourage the good-faith implementation of all aspects of that accord, the resolution of outstanding issues and the participation of civil society.

 

Responding to a question about indications of progress in Darfur owing to the deployment of UNAMID, Mr. Sawers stressed that the Mission was supposed to keep a peace once it was in place, which had not yet occurred.  For that reason, the delegation would focus on the political process and the possibility of appointing a head mediator.

 

Asked why the needed helicopters had not yet been donated, he said helicopters were in short supply worldwide, and Western nations were already stretched by other commitments.  The offer by Nordic countries to provide some had been rejected.

 

All conversations with political leaders during the trip would be confidential, he said in reply to another question.  The panel could not comment on whether it would raise the question of Sudanese Government officials indicted by the International Criminal Court.  As a basic tenet however, the mission would stress that all Council resolutions must be implemented and the rule of law must be followed.

 

However, Mr. Kafando added that all important issues in Côte d’Ivoire would be explored in depth.


 


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