5706th Meeting (AM)
Members of Mission to Africa Report on Visits To Sudan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo
With the Government of the Sudan having agreed unconditionally to support the deployment of a hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in the conflict-ridden Darfur region, it was necessary to keep up the pressure on Khartoum, the co-leaders of a recent Security Council mission to Africa said today as they briefed the wider Council membership on the week-long trip.
"So far so good," Emyr Jones Parry ( United Kingdom) said of Khartoum's decision to allow the deployment after months of on-again-off-again negotiations and mounting international pressure. While the improved tone of the recent talks was a good sign, "we got where we are today by sustained pressure for what we need to do in Darfur", the western region of the Sudan where the efforts of some 7,000 African Union peacekeepers had been hampered by a lack of equipment and funding.
Even while maintaining the same level of pressure to pave the way for the proposed 20,000-strong hybrid force, Member States and the Council must work constructively with Khartoum to ensure the deployment, he stressed, noting at the same time that the Sudanese Government had rightly chastised the international community for not exerting enough pressure on the rebels, who bore an equally large burden for implementation of the plan.
Ambassadors Jones Parry and Dumisani Kumalo ( South Africa), co-leaders of the Sudan leg of the mission, confirmed that high-level officials in Khartoum, including President Omer Hassan al-Bashir, had implicitly confirmed "total and unconditional" acceptance of the hybrid force. The trip had begun on 16 June with "positive" meetings with officials at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, and had included stops in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire before wrapping up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 21 June.
"I see this as a major breakthrough," said Ambassador Kumalo, noting that the remaining issues were logistical. To that end, the Council had informally discussed - and must soon address directly - a timeline for "who's going to do what and when", while assessing duties and tasks for the African Union, the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Council itself.
Reporting on the stops in Addis Ababa and Accra, Ghana, on his leg of the mission, Ambassador Kumalo highlighted the team's meeting with Alpha Oumar Konaré, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and Said Djinnit, Commissioner for Peace and Security. There had been a working meeting between the Security Council and its African Union counterpart, during which all the representatives had, among other things, expressed the desire to hold an exchange of views at least once every year and the shared understanding that, on peace and security matters, the African Union would always be acting on behalf of the international community and ensure that its actions benefited the work of the Security Council.
He said the delegates had also discussed how the United Nations could, on a case-by-case basis, assist the African Union with regard to resources, particularly when it was acting on behalf of the Security Council. However, that was a difficult and sensitive issue, particularly since it hinged on financing and budgetary matters that were decided, not by the Council, but by the General Assembly. Also during the meeting, the African Union had extended the mandate of the African Union Mission in the Sudan for another six months.
Ambassador Jones Parry pointed out that, increasingly, the Council would have to look to regional actors to help it maintain international peace and security. It followed, therefore, that, if the African Union was delivering better peace and security in the region, then that was a boon for numerous initiatives and measures falling within the Council's ambit, including in the areas of conflict prevention, peacekeeping, post-conflict activities, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform.
Peru's representative, Luis Enrique Chávez, reported on behalf of Ambassador Jorge Voto-Bernales regarding the Côte d'Ivoire leg of the mission on 18 and 19 June, saying its top priority in Abidjan had been to welcome the ownership of the Ivorian peace process by the parties in the context of the Ouagadougou Agreement. The visiting diplomats had met with a representative of the Facilitator of the process, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d'Ivoire and the new Prime Minster, Guillaume Soro. The mission had also held a working meeting with Baou Moussa, acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and other officials of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (ONUCI).
He said the Ouagadougou Agreement had created a new atmosphere in Côte d'Ivoire. Although it would not immediately resolve the problems at the heart of the crisis, it had established a new dynamic towards resolving them. Both the President and the Prime Minister had agreed that delays in implementation had merely been due to technical difficulties and the parties remained committed to implementing the Agreement's provisions. Appeals had been made for continued United Nations help during the electoral period in the areas of security, international assistance and support for the certification process.
The mission had noted a great improvement in the security situation, he said, adding that the commanders of the neutral forces estimated only a "minimal risk" of a return to hostilities. However, remaining problems included high criminality, including many illegal control posts on the roads, and lack of progress in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. Regarding the Facilitator's request to the Council for a partial lifting of the embargo on arms, the mission had been informed that police forces needed them to maintain law and order. Several mission members, however, had expressed doubts about lifting the embargo, as security sector reform and disarmament were still pending.
Among other problems to be resolved, the Prime Minister had highlighted the identification process. The President had expressed optimism that things could move ahead rapidly and the parties had agreed on the importance of making the peace process credible, with United Nations assistance. The mission had left Abidjan encouraged by the new dynamics, but convinced of the need for continued international assistance to Côte d'Ivoire.
Reporting on the last leg of the mission - its 20 June visit to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo - Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière (France) noted that it had followed the Council's decision to extend the presence of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), while adapting its mandate to the post-transition situation. After a working meeting with William Swing, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the mission had met with President Joseph Kabila and several members of the Government, including the interim Prime Minister, and the Presidents of the Senate and National Assembly. It had also met with key officials regarding security sector reform and the situation in North and South Kivu, in the country's eastern part.
The situation in the Kivus was caused by the activities of the forces of Laurent Nkunda and former members of the Forces armées rwandaises (FAR)/Interahamwe, he said. The most pressing concern for the Congolese authorities was a political and diplomatic solution without completely excluding military action. On the diplomatic front, the countries of the region were increasingly working together, but relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda were key to resolving the problems in the east.
As for security sector reform, he said the police and army seemed to have made little progress, despite the creation of some integrated brigades. The mission had stressed the importance of consolidating any progress and of establishing a truly professional army. It had asked the authorities to draw up a plan describing the type of army the country needed, as well as the necessary resources. The mission had also called on the Congolese authorities to take all necessary measures to end atrocities committed by certain elements of the national security forces.
He said the mission had also raised the question of relations between the Government and the opposition, and stressed the importance of respecting the latter's constitutional role. All parties must remain committed to the political process and to national reconciliation.
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 11 a.m.
For information media - not an official record