Transcript of media briefing by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Cape Town
17 Feb 2011Minister Nkoana-Mashabane
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media. Our statement this morning will be very brief. We will just focus on the immediate itinerary of the President. We will have a full briefing again, the Cluster Briefing next week Tuesday, in which we then elaborate on the other events that we will be engaged with during the course of the year.
The purpose of this briefing is to outline the upcoming international engagements and to reflect on some current international relations and developments. South Africa is fully committed to the African agenda, the strengthening of the African Union and the promotion of democracy, peace, security and stability on the African Continent. The promotion of human rights and political freedom form part of South Africa's foreign policy objectives. Informed by that outline, President Zuma will lead a delegation to Mauritania and Côte d'Ivoire in the coming days. I will also be part of that delegation, primarily because President Zuma is a member of the high level panel made up of about five presidents who were appointed by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) in the last meeting of Heads of States in Addis Ababa which took place from 28 to 30 January 2011.
This panel is made up of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, to determine how we should work together to find a peaceful and lasting solution, working together with the Ivorian people, to resolve the crisis that emanated from the inconclusive outcome of elections in that particular country.
As I have said, the panel is led by the President of Mauritania. Other members are the Presidents of Burkina Faso, Chad, South Africa, Tanzania.
The committee, this five-member panel, would also be supported by the African Union Commission and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). And they will begin work by receiving reports of the experts who have been working on this problem for the past number of days. The Heads of States will first go to Mauritania to receive the report from the ground of experts from all the five countries. Thereafter they will then go on the ground in Côte d'Ivoire to satisfy themselves about developments in that particular country. They will make conclusions after their own deliberations on the ground and engaging with the stakeholders on the ground and they will report back to the AU Peace and Security Council.
The leadership of Côte d'Ivoire from all parties has agreed to accept unconditionally whatever outcome that will help take forward the country, to move forward and get out of the stalemate that is ravaging the country at the moment.
Coming back from Côte d'Ivoire and the conclusion of that mission, President Zuma will lead a five-member ministerial delegation on a state visit to France from the 2nd to the 3rd of March at the invitation of the President of France, President Sarkozy. The visit takes place in the context of deepening bilateral, political and economic relations with France, in support of South Africa's five key priority areas and foreign policy objectives, the consolidation of the promotion of the African agenda, strengthening of North-South cooperation and enhancing of the role of Africa and the developing world in general matters of global governance.
President Zuma will have consultations with the President of France on deepening and strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries and also they will have some exchanges on the developments, the political developments on the African Continent and how they could work together to strengthen the African agenda and moving it forward. They will also be looking at global and international issues of mutual interest. France has shown keen interest to work with us as they take the presidency of the G20, and I am sure there will also be exchanges of views on South Africa's hosting of COP17.
President Zuma will also take the opportunity of this visit to consult with the French Prime Minister, Mr Francois Fillon, and other major meetings will include engagements with the President of the French Senate, the President of the National Assembly and the Mayor of Paris.
A major objective of the visit is to strengthen trade and investment ties with France and to address the challenges of the trade deficit that exists to the tune of about ten billion in 2009. The President will therefore also deliver an opening address at the South Africa-France Business Forum that will take place on the 3rd of March with the participation of significant business delegations from both South Africa and France.
The President will also participate in the remembrance ceremony of Dulcie September, the deceased who was an ANC representative in France at the time of her murder in France, in Paris on 29 March 1988, by persons who are still unknown.
There are several agreements that will be signed. Amongst them would be the, would include the new partnership framework document for 2011-2013, which is the framework for bilateral development cooperation between South Africa and France, according to which the French Development Agency, AFD, will make available approximately one billion Euros over three years through which various financial mechanisms would be funded. A number of AFD funding agreements with South African state owned enterprises are also expected to be signed.
As a concrete step to widen and deepen bilateral consultations on issues of policy of strategic importance, a new forum for economic dialogue will be launched during the state visit to complement the existing forum for political dialogue. It is also envisaged that the political-ministerial component of the forum for political dialogue will be formalised and strengthened. As I said earlier on, the Ministers that will be accompanying the President are five. It is myself, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Minister of Police and the Minister of Energy.
I am sure you would also be interested in us engaging with you on the developments in the Middle East and other areas that have seen major political developments in the past few weeks, and we are more than free to share with you our perspective. I thank you.Questions and answers session
Member of the media: Minister, With regard to the visit to France, France has been very interested to participate in nuclear development. Is this going to be some highlight? Is this the reason why the Minister of Energy is going and do you anticipate any agreements on the nuclear front? Thank you.
Member of the media: Mike Owen from Bloomberg News. Minister, just one brief thing. Can you confirm the report today that your DG will be leaving at the end of March? Can you, can you comment on that? And just on your comment that the parties in Ivory Coast have agreed to any outcome that the five-member panel will decide upon. I thought the AU had already taken a principle position that Mr Ouattara had actually won the elections and they want Mr Gbagbo to go. [Laughing] So, I mean, can you see the panel actually taking a decision other than that. And, I mean, should they decide that the AU decision should stand, do you expect Mr Gbagbo to accept that? Thanks very much.
Member of the media: Minister, just a quick few ones. With the trip to France, will the Côte d'Ivoire be part of the discussions? The involvement, the Côte d'Ivoire as a previous colony, so will that be part of the agenda, talking with President Sarkozy? And then just briefly, I am concerned, or not necessarily concerned, but there are 20 or so elections on the African Continent this year and will our President potentially be involved with in all kind of mop-up exercises if they were to be necessary? And then, sort of thirdly, with the Côte d'Ivoire, the situation as it is now, there's a lot of influx of refugees into Liberia. Liberia itself is heading towards presidential elections. Is this something you are keeping a look at? Thanks.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane: On whether we would be looking at energy security as one of the agenda points that President Zuma would discuss with President Sarkozy, the answer is yes. But, like I said earlier on, this is not the only issue that will be under discussion. But yes, both France, South Africa and many other countries that have this capability do believe that we should be given an opportunity to use our nuclear energy for peaceful means or peaceful purposes, including helping in the area of energy security.
On the point of whether Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba would be leaving the Department soon, we have haddiscussion after he had approached me and requested that, as much as he would have wanted to complete his contract, that there were pressing family issues that he wanted to give full attention to and we had to agree to part amicably. I want to take this opportunity to thank him for his dedication, for his hard work and in Afrikaans they call it "samewerking" [cooperation]. I have had a very, very good time working with him and I wish him all the best for his future endeavours. He will be leaving the Department on 31 March 2011.
On the issue of the finding a peaceful resolution of the political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, it is the Ivorian people who had come to see President Zuma separately, but with one message, that they would want to be helped to help themselves out of the crisis, and that they believe that the solution to their political problem will be political. At the time when the separate delegations were coming to meet with President Zuma, they had realised that the inconclusive outcome of the elections doesn't take them forward. President Zuma then dispatched me on the 4th of January to go and consult and listen to the President of ECOWAS, or the Chair of ECOWAS, the President of Nigeria, to listen to the views of ECOWAS, as the first to pronounce after the elections in Côte d'Ivoire. ECOWAS, AU, have unanimously agreed that we need to help people of Côte d'Ivoire who have requested that we help them to get out of this political crisis.
So, yes, because it is them who had invited the AU to help them, they have also committed that they will accept the outcome of this high-level panel that has been appointed by the AU through the AU Peace and Security Council.
On the question whether President Zuma and President Sarkozy will discuss the developments in Ivory Coast, or Côte d'Ivoire, yes. Côte d'Ivoire is a former French colony. But what remains, and the point that President Zuma has made very clear, and all Members of the AU, in unison, is that yes, while we respect the views of our friends outside the Continent, we also would love to appreciate that they know that Africans would rather be given an opportunity to deal with African problems, supported by the friends outside the Continent, but that the solution mainly has to come from African leaders themselves. And that is why African leaders themselves have taken a decision at the AU Summit that they form this high-level panel that will help resolve the problem. So, yes, views will be exchanged. President Zuma will not decline from sharing whatever information that President Sarkozy will be interested in. But, primarily, Africans are very keen to deal with African problems.
There will be, indeed, almost 20 elections on the African Continent. The AU Constitutive Act also outlines how it would want to see the democracy agenda strengthened in Africa, that African countries run elections through peaceful, free and fair means. The values that we share should also be guiding that which should become outcomes of these elections. But leaders should also respect the will of their own citizenry. So, whatever South Africa is asked to support such a democratic agenda, we will do exactly that. We will not impose our will on other people, but we will always stand ready in line and informed by our foreign policy to support the rebuilding and strengthening of the democracy agenda on this Continent for the sake of peace, security and development. Yes, we really pray that the day should come on this Continent that come elections we should not be envisaging that we will have children, most of the time, women and children, crossing the borders with meagre belongings on their heads, because there had been an election in a given country. So, that is what we wish for our continent, for our country, for our region and for the Continent.
South Africa doesn't have separate values and standards for South Africans and then sub-standards for other African countries. That which we wish for our people, we also wish for other countries in our Continent.
Member of the media: Just a follow-up question on the Director-General (DG). I also saw him confirming that he is leaving. Have you identified anyone who will take over his position? And, secondly, with regard to the Ivory Coast, some couple of weeks ago, the Minister will correct me on this one, there was a vessel, our vessel from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) that was sent to the Ivorian region. I am not sure what happened, but there was a concern from one the parties involved in the question of elections, that we appear to be taking sides on the disputes around the elections. Was that a concern raised directly with you, Minister? And what happened then? On the visit to France by the President, I see that there is no business delegation that is accompanying the President, from what the Minister mentioned. Only five Ministers are accompanying the President. [Background talking] Oh, okay. I just wanted to find out how many business people are accompanying the President to France. I mean, if there is a business delegation.
Member of the media: Just two questions, one on the Ivory Coast. I wanted to find out, is South Africa, I mean, from which point of view are we coming from? Are we coming from a view that says that Mr Gbagbo is correct or are we coming from a view that says that Mr Ouattara is the legitimate winner of the elections? What exactly, if you can clarify our view as South Africans, not just the, as part of the AU but as South Africa? What is our position to cutting the stalemate in the Ivory Coast? And with regard to Egypt, again, as South Africa, what sort of solution would you like to see? What sort of government would you like to see, you know, coming in and restoring things in Egypt? What is our view on that?
Member of the media: With regard to Côte d'Ivoire, the backers of Ouattara have said that this intervention by the AU, the five-member panel, is the last chance to end the crisis peacefully. Just hoping to get a comment on how South Africa views that. Following up on the question of the Drakensberg [ship]. ECOWAS has criticized South Africa for not informing. The statement yesterday said that it had been diverted to the Gulf of Guinea. Was it diverted primarily for evacuation purposes, backup to the South Africans in Côte d'Ivoire, or is it also there as a potential backup for any intervention? And finally, the oil worker, the South African oil worker who released in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) yesterday evening. I know that the details aren't coming out regarding how he was released, but if there is anything, following up on that, whether it was a military intervention, a negotiation, a bribe, anything on his, not a bribe, sorry, a ransom, wrong word, any details on how that was negotiated? Thank you.
Member of the media: The military has taken control there. Are there fears from South Africa that the military could dig in and decide to sort of institute its own kind of military dictatorship?
Member of the media: Minister, you have mentioned the issue that the Ivorians have asked our support from South Africa. Can you specific what sort of support they have actually sought from South Africa? And, of course, with these latest developments that are emanating even from Egypt in particular, one cannot forget the issue of Zimbabwe. You know, should these kind of, and the President has already commented that they respect the former Egypt president for actually stepping down and allowing the will of the people, should these kind of developments come from our neighbour, Zimbabwe, what sort of support, or South Africa could actually intervene? I know it is already intervening in these kind of issues.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane: I think the first question on this round was whether we have already found a new DG. The answer would be very obvious, that, no. There is no way we could have found a new DG when the other one is still serving. We will consult, we will advertise the post and the normal process of administration will take its course.
Whether South Africa had a favourite on the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, we have been saying repeatedly, and let me take this opportunity of this press briefing, to confirm once again that President Zuma had said that we hold no brief for any faction in Côte d'Ivoire. For the past ten days i have been receiving delegations from both sides. And both sides have again, and once again, confirmed that they believe that South Africa is an honest peace broker. Some members of Ouattara's delegation even mentioned that, which gives them confidence, is the observation they have made from President Zuma's roll in brokering peace in Burundi. And they believe that he can be trusted as an honest peace broker. So we have no favourites. And, again, repeating what the other grouping from Gbagbo had said, that they strongly believe that South Africa put the interests, the aspirations and wishes of ordinary Ivorians on the ground, who are bearing the brunt of sanctions at the moment. Banks are closing down, vessels with crude oil are not allowed to enter and food stuff and medicine cannot enter because of the sanctions. So it is not politicians necessarily, but ordinary Ivorians who are bearing the brunt of the fallout, this political fallout. So, we are entering the space as a member of the high-level panel, holding no brief for any of the two leaders or the factions in Ivory Coast or in Côte d'Ivoire.
The SAS Drakensberg was on a regular mission to Argentina. They were going to refuel in the West Coast of Africa and specifically in Ghana. When the crisis was escalating, the leadership of this country also thought, maybe they should spend a little bit more [time], a few days there in the event that they had to then evacuate South Africans there, they should be able to help. There was a misunderstanding that they went, or were in that space, for other reasons. The vessel only entered the West Coast waters, and specifically Ghana, for replenishing and refueling. And they had been, most of the time, in international waters. So, there was no other mission, plan, hidden or otherwise, by our people through SAS Drakensberg in that particular region.
President Zuma had an opportunity to clarify that point with the Chair of ECOWAS, in the name of the President of Nigeria, His Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan. And so we believe that we have explained ourselves on that matter.
President Zuma is going to France, yes, with a very strong business delegation, leading a five-member cabinet ministers’ delegation, but also a business delegation including government officials. As for the number of business people who will be accompanying the President, I spoke to Minister Davies yesterday, we are still finalising and consolidating the list, so I don't have the exact list with me at the moment. But I am sure it will be completed in due course.
At what point we enter the Ivorian crisis? I have said earlier on, responding to your question, that we were invited by the Ivorians themselves. When we were invited by the Ivorians themselves from the two factions, we didn't rush in. We went to consult with the leadership of ECOWAS, primarily Nigeria. After having consulted with Nigeria, we waited for the Summit to take place. ECOWAS brought the problem of Côte d'Ivoire to the Peace and Security Council of the AU. South Africa is at the moment a member of the Peace and Security Council of the AU, and as you know very well, also a member of the Security Council. So, we went there, participated in that meeting and we were confirmed by the AU Peace and Security Council to form part of the five-member panel that should enter the Ivorian space. So that is how we enter these negotiations.
Yes, both Ouattara and Gbagbo's people have confirmed that they have full trust in us, that we are honest peace brokers.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane: About Egypt. South Africa, through our President, through the statements that we also made on his behalf, we have confirmed that we congratulated the people of Egypt. South Africa always frowns upon the military entering the political space. We prefer civilian rule. But it is the people of Egypt who have the responsibility to then say who should lead their transitional government. We hope and pray with the people of Egypt that indeed the military shouldn't become too comfortable, that the transitional period should be temporary and the pronouncements that this transitional government has been making seem to be quite okay for now. They have dissolved parliament and have suspended the constitution. They are already talking about looking at a review of the constitution itself and holding democratic elections in the nearest future.
You may recall that the next presidential elections in that country were going to be held in September 2011. So we hope that they will keep to their own time frames. Because, if you may recall, this country has been under emergency rule for the past 30 years. So, indeed, democracy and full democracy is long overdue in Egypt. So, as we have said earlier on, we stand ready to give whatever support that will be requested by the Egyptians to South Africa as they march into this new era and rule of law.
Do we fear that the military could dig in? I think ordinary men and women in the streets of Egypt have shown that they would be impatient with such kind of ideas if they do. We are not anticipating that to come in.
I don't know how I should relate Zimbabwe with Egypt, because I have said earlier that Egypt has been under emergency rule for 30 years. In Zimbabwe, despite their problems, for the past 30 years, they have held elections and the reason why we have this problem in Zimbabwe is that, again, they had an election the last time which did not produce an outright, a result that brought or gave an outright majority to any of the two parties. We hope that future elections will be different.
Our DG this morning, talking to SABC, indicated that we hope that people of Zimbabwe will stick to their own road map and focus on taking the draft new constitution to parliament and then proceed to a referendum as they prepare for a democratic election. So that is what we are hoping and wishing for the people of Zimbabwe. Thank you.
Member of the media: Just a follow-up question, Minister, on the resignation of the DG. Do you think the unions in the Department had put too much pressure on the DG or your office for him to resign before his contract came to an end? And could you also confirm whether the DG indicated to you in November last year that he wanted to resign? Thank you.
Member of the media: On Haiti, can you say when President Aristide will be returning and can you say whether the US or any other government has urged you to discourage him from returning? And Madagascar, is there any concern that President Ravalomanana plans to return will create unrest there? And on Ivory Coast, you describe the outcome of that election as inconclusive. Does that contradict the AU and UN saying that Ouattara definitely won that election?
Member of the media: I wonder if I can ask you just a question about the SAS Mendi, the frigate, whether you could just confirm whether it is in fact sailing in the Mozambique Channel to counter piracy? The piracy which is supposedly spreading south from Somalia, as has been reported. Thank you.
Member of the media: Zimbabwe elections this year, says Robert Mugabe. Morgan Tsvangirai says, we couldn't possibly have them this year because of the violence that is raising its head again. Do we have a view on that?
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane: Sometimes we wonder if we are speaking the kind of English that makes us deliver the point correctly.
The DG had confirmed this morning through SABC that he had had consultations with me and that we have agreed amicably that he will be leaving the Department at the end of March. Now, I am now being asked to confirm if we started the discussions in November. So, I really can't remember the actual date when we started the discussions. But I don't remember November. I just want to reiterate that, yes, the DG and myself have had discussions and I have consulted with the leadership of this government and we have amicably agreed to release him at the end of March.
Whether President Aristide had requested the South African authority to leave, the answer is yes. We are consulting with all interested parties to facilitate his return back home at the appropriate time.
On Madagascar we got a briefing recently from the facilitator, former President Chissano. There were attempts to scupper the agreements of Maputo 1 and Maputo 2 and we have resisted that. And there are discussions about keeping the de facto President Rajoelina as an interim leader as we build up to returning the country to democratic order. But the full report of the discussions, negotiations that have been going on, will be presented to the SADC troika by the facilitator, President Chissano, in due course.
On the question about the outcome of elections in Côte d'Ivoire, if both Ouattara and Gbagbo's people are now saying together that they need help to get out of this political crisis, I think it is better that we focus on that one and help them out of this political crisis. It was them that they said that they don't want to discuss elections again. They want to move forward, because they realised that there were some discrepancies with the elections. So, I don't know if we should, while they are asking us to find a way and move forward, whether we should be stagnating and taking them backwards. I thought it was not our business to drag them backwards, but to help them move forward as requested by themselves.
On how South Africa deals with the piracy. You will get the full details of that in the next briefing on Tuesday. As I said earlier on, we will have a full cluster ICTS Cluster press or media briefing on Tuesday, led by the Chairperson of the Cluster, Minister Sisulu.
On Zimbabwe elections I have said earlier on that Zimbabweans have shared with us their road map that they were going to have to take the process of the referendum first. And that is what we are eagerly encouraging them to live up to the commitments that they have made, which will ensure that they indeed hold peaceful, free and fair elections next time, after they have concluded the process of the referendum on the new constitution.
Member of the media: Minister, just points of clarity please, if you don't mind. Wendell from Reuters. The first is, when does the five-member wise men panel or whatever hand over the report to the AU? What exactly is the procedure in terms of, or the, in terms of how the peace and security organ works within the AU, given the fact that the AU has already, coming from what my colleague said, or has already made a pronouncement in principle on the position, on the outcome of the elections. So, for example, what's going to happen? You know, does the AU have to now adopt the peace and security apparatus? Does this have to go to a heads of summit, you know? What is the procedure with regard to that, please? And then second, thirdly and lastly, Minister, you have been, from what I can gather, intimately involved with the entire process and the negotiations amongst the protagonists in the Ivory Coast. How do you see, how does South Africa see a sort of, to use a cliché, a win-win situation emerging there, please?
Member of the media: Minister, I was wondering if you could shared with us whether your ability to help mediate in Zimbabwe has been prejudiced by the report on Wikileaks, that you called Mr Mugabe 'a crazy old man'? I don't want to dwell on this point, but shortly after the AU recognised Mr Ouattara as the winner of the Ivory Coast elections, your Ministry issued a statement calling on Mr Gbagbo to step down as soon as possible and orchestrate a transfer of power. You know, I think the term you used was that the election is inconclusive. The way I understand it, initially from the AU's point of view, and initially your Ministry's point of view, it wasn't inconclusive at all. It was, there was a clear winner. Are you now withdrawing your recognition of Mr Ouattara as that, as the winner of that? I mean, anything inconclusive about it was that Mr Gbagbo failed to recognise results that the UN had endorsed. Can you just give us clearly, do we still recognise, does South Africa still recognise Mr Ouattara as the winner of that election?
Member of the media: Given the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, and now we see them in Algeria, would you not say that perhaps peer review on the continent is sort of failing, you know, in terms of policing each other and policing good governance on the continent?
Member of the media: Just to go back to my earlier question about the oil worker in the DRC, who the government helped negotiate his release. Thank you.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane: We welcome the release of the oil worker. Of course, indeed, there should have been discussions that led to his release. And as to the fuller details of how was he released, we will share that with you later when we would have been fed with the fuller details that you are requesting. But I can assure you that South Africa pays no bribes to any hostage taker. That much I can confirm now.
Popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. You know, learning from our own experience in South Africa, every nation at one point or the other would have its own population feeling people have to become their own liberators. And South Africa will support such legitimate claims to freedom and democracy as and when that happens.
The Peer Review Mechanism, the APRM of the African Union through the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), is a voluntary mechanism. So, if a country, you know, subscribe to the APRM, we welcome that. We now have more than 30 countries who have subscribed to that. But we have no, we haven't really started walking into countries and saying to them, we don't like this kind of democracy you have in this country, and so on. It is the people themselves, even the Egyptians themselves were coming to us, that we are okay with this kind of rule, which is largely what happened in the Middle East. The majority of the countries there have leadership that comes from royal families and so on, and so on. It is not for us, butIt has to be the people themselves that decide. The brand of democracy we have here, we would rather have that and not this. But we can't impose ourselves on them. But if they come out with legitimate claims, South Africa will support them, as we have been supported by other nations when we were fighting against apartheid.
About Côte d'Ivoire. Okay, let me start here. How does the AU work? The highest decision making body of the AU is the Summit of Heads of States. In between summits, well if there is a real crisis, the AU Commission can call and extraordinary summit of Heads of States. But in between summits, the AU Commission, run by the 10 commissioners, led by Dr Jean Ping, runs the administration of the AU. Now, when there are elections conducted in a given country on the Continent, the AU Commission facilitates the AU Observer Missions that come from member countries to go and observe and election in a given country. The AU Commission, informed by the reports of the observers will then confirm elections to have been taken, to have been free, to have been peaceful, free and fair, and so on.
Now, in the case of Côte d'Ivoire, or in the case of any other election in the Continent, we also rely on the support of the regional structures that form the building blocks for the AU. In this instance here, we had to rely on the observers of ECOWAS themselves. But when there were, the first reports a day after the election that came from some observers of ECOWAS had said that elections were free and fair. Obviously, immediately the AU Commission, not AU Summit, had said, yes, we support ECOWAS. But when the elections were, when we started having two outcomes, two decisions taken by two separate bodies in the same country, one the independent electoral commission (IEC), the other the Constitutional Council, remember all these talks, fallouts, did not come from outside. All these fallouts came after all these bodies would have given their initial nod. We had reason to undermine that which came from ECOWAS and the AU Commission. But two days later we started seeing the fallouts of the IEC, the Constitutional Council and, you know, confirmations, contradictions, which they themselves, the Ivorians themselves came out and said, come and help us. We don't think that which we thought was going to be a smooth sailing matter, became what it should have been.
It is, like I said earlier on, Ouattara's people come here, Gbagbo's people come here. They also consult with ECOWAS. They do that. And they themselves say they have had problems. I am sure you are realising that I am avoiding going deeper into the details, which will then undermine the efforts of the experts who are already on the ground, and the matter has reached a sensitive stage, that we should rather curtail detailing what they are picking up on the ground. But what I can share with you for sure is that the initial information that was coming through was like things were normal. So if the AU Commission comes out and say, this is how we see things, the Summit has the right and the prerogative to look at all decisions that were taken and endorse those decisions, or say, we are reviewing these decisions. In this instance here, the AU Commission had through; well ECOWAS had requested that the AU Commission take the matter of the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire to the Peace and Security Council of the AU. The Peace and Security Council of the AU made a recommendation that we send a panel there into that country, the decision of which was endorsed by the AU Summit. The AU Summit was going to receive the report of the Commission. Every year when the Summit takes place, the outcomes of all those elections will have to be taken to the Summit. In fact, if there would have been new Presidents that would have been inaugurated during the course of that particular year, when the Summit opens, they are given an opportunity to make, if you like,fresh women's and freshmen's inaugural statements in the Summit to welcome them into the fold of the leadership of the AU.
In this instance here, by the time we went to Summit of Heads of States, the crisis had reached a point where the Commission itself that had said that we recognise so and so, had actually suspended Côte d'Ivoire out of the AU. So, there was no leader of Côte d'Ivoire that was invited to the AU Summit. Now, South Africa had supported the statement of ECOWAS about the initial outcome of the elections. It is the same ECOWAS that has taken the problem to the AU Peace and Security Council. So, we have no reason but to support that which were the observations of that particular region. And hence this AU high-level panel. By the way, the President of Burkina Faso represents the ECOWAS region into this AU Peace and Security Council. So there was no imposition of any decision by anybody or any regional leader into this how we should be resolving this crisis in Côte d'Ivoire.
Issued by: Department of International Relations and Cooperation
17 Feb 2011
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