DR Congo + 7 more

Press conference by Security Council President 2 Aug 2006

Briefing correspondents today on the Security Council's calendar for August, its President for the month, Nana Effah-Apenteng ( Ghana) said it was evident that the Middle East crisis, particularly Lebanon, would feature prominently on the Council's agenda.
Following the Council's adoption of a presidential statement in an emergency session on Sunday, 30 July, he noted that the Secretary-General would be submitting a report on Qana. He expected to have that report sometime next week.

The Council was expecting a preliminary briefing on the recently-held elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. Given the size of the country and the logistical issues involved, a comprehensive report on the elections would take some time. An initial assessment of the 30 July elections would be provided, however, during consultations tomorrow.

There was also the problem of Darfur, he said, chiefly the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, recently signed in Abuja, Nigeria. Based on the request of the African Union, he expected that there should be a transition from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to a United Nations operation. That had been overshadowed, however, by the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. There had been resistance on the part of the Sudanese Government, however, regarding a United Nations operation in Darfur. Discussion on that issue continued.

The Council would also be discussing developments in Côte d'Ivoire, he said. As the date of the elections, scheduled for 31 October, drew near, it was important that the Council monitor implementation of the road map in the hope that the elections would be held on schedule. There were plans to review the situation in September, in the margins of the General Assembly, to determine whether elections could go ahead for 31 October.

On Wednesday, 9 August, the Council was also expected to hold an open debate on the issue of peace consolidation in West Africa, chaired by Ghana's Foreign Minister, he said. In that regard, he expected that the Council would start implementing some of the new working methods adopted under Japan's presidency of the Council. Those procedures would affect the format for open debates.

The mandates of several missions were also due to expire in August, including those of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), he said. Extensions were expected for all three. Any of the issues listed in the footnote on the Council's provisional programme of work could also come during the month, depending on circumstance, he added.

Given that a united Europe was calling for a cessation of hostilities in Lebanon, when did he expect a Council meeting on that issue? a correspondent asked.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, he said it was also important to face realities on the ground. The Council had tried several times in that regard last week. There was division in the Council. Discussions were going on outside of the Council. He hoped that there would be "convergence of minds" after which the Council would discuss the issue.

The issue had come up in this morning's consultations, he added, noting that his view had been to allow the week to pass, hoping that the two parties engaged in the discussions could bridge the gap regarding their approach and come up with a concrete solution. The Council would then discuss the matter as a whole. Silence on the issue, however, should not be interpreted as a lack of concern. The issue would be raised during consultations tomorrow. There was, however, no specific time marked out for the discussion on Lebanon.

Asked about the possibility of a ministerial-level meeting in the next few days, he said that, while he had heard about such a meeting last week, nothing more had been said about it this week. He did not have concrete information, but he doubted that there would be a meeting this week. Anything was possible, however. If necessary, the Council would meet over the weekend.

A French-led text had been circulated, he said in response to another question. An experts meeting had taken place yesterday, and again this morning. France and other Council members were discussing the issue. If they were able to reach agreement or a better understanding of their difficulties, it would be easier for the Council to discuss the issue and then quickly come to a conclusion. That was what he had in mind.

What would it take to get the issue of Somalia out of the footnotes and onto the Council's programme? a correspondent asked.

Responding, he said he thought Somalia would eventually come up this month. The situation there was getting worse. The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonseny Fall, was talking to both parties. As the situation evolved, the Council would eventually have to deal with it. A Council member would have to request the meeting, however.

Regarding the selection process for the next Secretary-General, he said the Council had not taken a decision whether or not to have another straw poll. In February, the Council had decided to discuss the selection of the Secretary-General every month, until such time that a nomination was made. Since the Council had started with the straw poll last month, he expected that the Council would do something about the selection of the Secretary-General this month. Whether to have another straw poll would have to be decided, however. If there was another straw poll, he suspected it would be later in the month.

Asked to state the position of Ghana's Government in terms of a ceasefire, he said Ghana believed there should be a cessation of hostilities to enable the provision of humanitarian assistance and then discuss a political framework. Without a cessation of hostilities it would be very difficult to insert a force.

Was there any country in the Council other than the United States that disagreed? a correspondent asked. "From my reading of the situation, no", he replied.

Asked if the Qana report would be discussed in closed consultations next week, he said the Council was likely to have consultations on it. The Council had not, however, taken a firm position on how to proceed.

Asked whether the Council had a sense of urgency regarding the situation in Lebanon, he said everybody shared a sense of urgency about the matter, which was why the Council had met last Sunday. It was necessary, however, to understand the issue the Council was faced with. The Council would better serve the international community if it presented a united position. While there appeared to be a lull, all members recognized that it was a crucial issue. The groundwork would have to be laid, however, if there were to be a successful meeting.

Regarding the open debate on peace consolidation in West Africa, he noted that invitations had been extended to the foreign ministers of the Council's members, as well as to the foreign ministers of West African countries. August was a holiday month, however, and he could not say who would be participating at the current stage.

Asked whether any Council action was anticipated on the Secretary-General's report on Darfur, he noted that Darfur fell under the issue of the Sudan. The Secretary-General was expecting something from the Government of Sudan. His office would be the best to handle it. After it came, the issue might be raised in the Council. As Darfur was part of the Sudan, the Council could take up the issue at any time it had the relevant information.

Had there been talk of an open meeting on Lebanon? a correspondent asked.

Responding, he said the Council had decided to show maximum flexibility and keep the door open on the issue. Different formats were available, including a public debate.

For information media - not an official record