28 June 2005
South Africa would support military action against Rwanda’s former Hutu-dominated militia, the Interahamwe, should the armed forces derail the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In addition, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council recommends armed action to neutralise the militia, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told journalists in Pretoria this week.
Pahad said the prospects of peace in the DRC would remain poor unless the Interahamwe problem was addressed.
“If you don’t deal with the Interahamwe you will never achieve peace in the DRC”, Pahad said. “If political action does not work it would be important to take military action, and South Africa would fully support such an action.”
Pahad said South Africa had been working closely with the people of the DRC to ensure peace in the troubled country, and that the elections scheduled for 30 October were held in a stable political environment.
“Before any election can take place, the demobilisation of former rebel movements, including Interahamwe, is crucial,” Pahad said. “However, the withdrawal of the militia from the peace process is causing a delay in the demobilisation process and is also creating an unstable political climate.”
On the political situation in Ivory Coast, Pahad said South Africa was asked by the African Union to try to unblock the peace process in that country.
“We will review the Pretoria Agreement and identify the stumbling blocks in the implementation of the agreement”, the deputy minister told journalists.
“After the Pretoria Agreement, which was signed by the warring sides, we have seen no progress in the implementation of the peace process. We would like to see the legislative process completed and the disarmament process begin.”
President Thabo Mbeki is currently hosting another round of peace talks in Pretoria with key leaders of Cote D’Ivoire.
Pahad said that while South Africa would do its best to ensure an amicable solution to that country’s problems, strong measures could be taken against those standing in the way of peace.
“The possibility of sanctions to anyone obstructing the Pretoria Agreement is a reality,” he said.
Pahad said South Africa would continue its conflict resolution mission in the continent’s hot spots.
The United Nations Security Council has extended the UN operation in the Ivory Coast until 24 January 2006, following the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1609 (2005).
“South Africa and Africa will not prosper if there are conflicts on the continent,” Pahad said. “We cannot achieve the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) goals if there is continued instability on the continent.
“It is within this context that South Africa assumes a leading role in resolving conflicts in Africa.”