The virtual coup d'état in Lesotho was linked to the Army mutiny and the rejection of the May general election results by opposition parties, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of that country, Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, told the General Assembly this morning, as it continued its general debate.
He went on to say that, while the Southern African Development Community (SADC) commission had not found any electoral fraud, Lesotho's opposition insisted on the resignation of the Government, the dissolution of Parliament and the establishment of the King's Government of National Unity, in which only the major parties would be represented. Meanwhile, damage done to the country's business infrastructure by supporters of the opposition parties was estimated at $200 million, putting a heavy burden on Lesotho's already fragile economy.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Uganda, Eriya Kategaya, said his country's interests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were contingent upon ensuring total security in Uganda and protection of its citizens. His country had no territorial designs on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but any internal political arrangement there that did not cater to the legitimate security concerns of its neighbours was a Ugandan concern. Today, crimes were committed daily against Ugandans by surrogate forces of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was such that Uganda must maintain a military presence necessary for its security.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Blagoj Handziski, said the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) should stay in his country until the situation in Albania stabilized and the Kosovo crisis was settled. His country saw a possible solution within the framework of the Republic of Serbia and within the internationally recognized borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Unless the interim solution proposed by the United States and the Contact Group was accepted and implemented, his country was concerned about new waves of refugees, which could destabilize the situation in the region and beyond.
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The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chad, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, said that after almost three decades of civil war, his country was now pursuing the rule of law. However, in spite of political and economic advances, he deplored a "campaign of lies against his Government". International institutions had spread disinformation regarding Chad's oil and human rights situations. He stressed that his country had ratified all the main international instruments regarding human rights and established a national commission on that issue.
Also this morning, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a resolution on assistance to Bangladesh in the wake of devastating floods. By terms of the text, introduced by the representative of Indonesia on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, the Assembly appealed to all Member States, the United Nations system, as well as international financial institutions and non-governmental organizations to respond urgently and generously to Bangladesh in its relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts following the calamity.
Statements were also made by the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, the Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and Gabon.
The Assembly also heard statements after the introduction and before the adoption of the draft resolution by the representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union. The representatives of Japan and Bangladesh also made statements.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its general debate.
Assembly Work Programme
The Assembly met this morning to continue its general debate. It was expected to hear the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda; as well as the Foreign Ministers of Chad, Jordan, Lesotho, Congo, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Sierra Leone and Gabon.
The Assembly would also consider a draft resolution (document A/53/L.1), sponsored by Indonesia, on assistance to Bangladesh in the wake of the devastating floods. By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would appeal to all Member States, the United Nations system, international financial institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to urgently and generously assist Bangladesh in its relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts following the unprecedented calamity. The Assembly would also request relevant organizations and bodies of the United Nations system to support Bangladesh in strengthening its capacity for disaster preparedness and prevention programmes, and in seeking a long-term solution to the problems caused by floods and other natural disasters.
Statements in General Debate
MAHAMAT SALEH ANNADIF, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Chad, said as the United Nations was increasingly called on to help address ever growing problems confronting humankind, the Organization would need real cooperation from its Member States. Despite its own economic problems, Chad's payment of its United Nations dues and the participation of its troops in the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) demonstrated Chad's commitment to the Organization.
Chad, which had experienced almost three decades of civil war, was now stable and had embarked on a programme of national reconciliation and democracy, he said. Today, the rule of law and democracy was a palpable reality. To complete the process of democratization, his Government and Chad's National Assembly were establishing the other institutions provided for by its constitution. A structural adjustment programme to speed economic growth had been adopted with assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other multilateral donors.
In addition to agricultural and livestock production, Chad's economy relied on the mining of natural resources, such as oil, he said. With the expected oil revenues, his country's resources would increase significantly by the next century. Income derived form oil would be allocated to the fight against poverty and the entire population would benefit. Chad was one of the rare countries that was managing its oil exploitation in a transparent way. However, in spite of political and economic advances, lies against his Government had been spread through a disinformation campaign by international institutions regarding its oil and human rights situations. He stressed that his country had ratified all the main international instruments regarding human rights and established a national commission to oversee protection of human rights.
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With the end of the civil war characterized by outside interference, Chad now expected the international community to assist it in developing a system based on the rule of law. He invited all international institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to participate in a round table to be held in October to review Chad's options for strategic development.
Efforts to settle conflicts in Africa through negotiation, including the work of MINURCA, had yielded satisfactory results, he said. The legislative election to be held in the Central African Republic was an important aspect of the peace process there. With continued support of the international community important, the premature withdrawal of MINURCA from that country would jeopardize the peace process. Tension still emerged to threaten peace, stability and security of the region. The Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were examples of areas of tensions. Also, Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) was the only party responsible for the deterioration of the situation in Angola.
ABDEL-ELAH KHATIB, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, said Jordan had made ceaseless efforts to achieve a peaceful and honourable settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and had upheld the peace treaty it had signed with Israel within the framework of the Madrid Conference. In addition, it had offered supporting efforts to reach an agreement on the Palestinian-Israeli track and other tracks. Unfortunately, the peace process remained deadlocked. Jordan, therefore, demanded that Israel "declare its full acceptance of the United States initiative and carry out its commitment under the agreements and remove all obstacles to reaching an agreement on redeployment and other outstanding issues". This would enable the peace process to move ahead and achieve its goals, and ensure the "legitimate national rights" of the Palestinian people to establish their independent State on their national soil. He said that security could only be consolidated through a just and honourable peace, which was convincing to the peoples of the region and which they could defend.
The occupied city of Jerusalem had been the most important component of the Arab-Israeli conflict, he noted, adding that it was part of Arab territories occupied in 1967. Jordan called on Israel to stop and reverse all actions that would change the status of the city. Its final status should be left to negotiations under the Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Unilateral actions would violate the accords and all the resolutions of international legitimacy. Until the status of the city was finally settled, it should remain open to "all believers in God". For many years, Jordan had taken the responsibility of preserving and maintaining the sanctity of the holy places under the circumstances of occupation.
He said Israel should desist from all unilateral actions against the Palestinian people, such as closures, sieges, arrests, demolition of homes, confiscation of land and the building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. "It must lift the restrictions that hinder the development of the Palestinian economy" and deal with
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Palestinians as partners in the peace process, he added. In addition, Israel must seriously resume negotiations towards peace with Syria and Lebanon, ensuring Israeli withdrawal from the Syrian Golan to the borders of 4 June 1967 and the implementation of the relevant Security Council resolution on Israel's unconditionally withdrawing from southern Lebanon.
He said the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) suffered from financial crises which threatened to interrupt its services. Jordan attached utmost importance to the work of UNRWA until the Palestinian refugee problem was completely solved. He urged donor countries to continue and increase their contributions to enable the Agency continue its work.
Weapons of mass destruction constituted a dangerous source of tension and instability in the Middle East, he said. The ideal solution was to establish zones free from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in affected regions, including the Middle East. Jordan called on all countries to accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to safeguard international peace and security and to gear the world towards general and complete disarmament. He noted, "We view with particular sensitivity the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, because Israel possesses and is developing a nuclear weapons arsenal." The possibility of a confrontation between Israel and other States possessing weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological weapons, made the region live in great fear. For this reason, he called for the establishment of a regional security mechanism and a forum to discuss that issue.
MOTSOAHAE THOMAS THABANE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lesotho, said that instability in his country persisted because not all political players were similarly committed to a democratic process. Nothing could be truer than the Secretary-General's assertion that: "where there is insufficient accountability of leaders, lack of transparency in regimes, inadequate checks and balances, non-adherence to the rule of law, absence of peaceful means to change or to replace leadership, or lack of respect for human rights, political control becomes excessively important, and the stakes become dangerously high." Recent experience in Lesotho had proven that instability was likely even when Governments were conscious of the above prescription but other political players were not committed to them.
The country's virtual coup d'état, he said, was linked to the Army and the rejection of the May general election results by the opposition parties. Despite the absence of fraud found by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) commission, Lesotho's political opposition insisted on the resignation of the Government, the dissolution of Parliament and the establishment by the King of a Government of National Unity, in which all the major parties would be equally represented. In response to the Prime Minister's appeal, the SADC member States of Botswana and South Africa had come to neutralize the ensuing Army mutiny and restore law and order. Meanwhile, damage from the supporters of the opposition parties to the country's business infrastructure was estimated at $200 million. For a small, least developed country like Lesotho, that had put a heavy burden on its
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already fragile economy. He appealed to the international community for assistance to rebuild the country's infrastructure.
He also warned that assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and some bilateral donors, intended to reorient the Army, had not yet had a lasting impact. Lesotho's army had a sad history of being filled with political supporters of one party in power when that party was in power. As a consequence, the Army had great difficulty in submitting to the authority of a different Government. There was an urgent need to overhaul the Lesotho Army as was done under international supervision in Haiti. Furthermore, a national dialogue between all political parties needed to be initiated to resolve the crisis.
The lawlessness in his country had also underscored the need to control the illicit possession of small arms and light weapons, he said. Those arms had become so commonplace that they threatened the cohesion and well-being of many societies. As many as 90 per cent of the deaths in contemporary conflicts were caused by those weapons. There were still no international standards regarding small arms; their production, trade and possession remained essentially unmonitored and unregulated. He urged the international community to find a solution to the problem.
Disarmament and in particular nuclear disarmament was of great concern to his Government, he added. Nuclear weapons were held by a handful of States which insisted that those weapons provided security benefits, and yet reserved the right to own them uniquely for themselves. That situation was highly discriminatory, unstable and untenable. The possession of nuclear weapons by any State was a constant stimulus to other States to acquire them. In reality, they diminished the security of all States. India and Pakistan, he said, had been led to conduct nuclear testing by the resistance of nuclear weapons States to fulfil their obligations to negotiate in good faith a total ban on all nuclear weapons.
He went on to say that the least developed countries had not benefited from the expected gains of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations. Those countries continued to face significant obstacles to market access for their exports. Tariff peaks and tariff escalations still existed against their major export items. Furthermore, some standards were too difficult to meet due to differences in technological advancement.
He also urged the international community to assume its responsibility to firmly apply Security Council resolutions in regard to the crisis in Angola. He then expressed concern over the instability in the Great Lakes region and over the slow pace of the solving of the problem of Western Sahara.
RODOLPHE ADADA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of the Congo, said peace and development were two ideals which for decades had challenged the international community. For more than a decade, Africa had been in the headlines due to crises and conflicts, civil war, famines and epidemics, all of which had impeded the development of the continent. That had caused him to wonder whether Africa would enter the third
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millennium on the wrong foot. The Congo had been in the midst of civil war for five long months. The international community, particularly the United Nations, had worked towards reaching a negotiated solution to the conflict. Unfortunately, those efforts were not successful. The Congo was convinced that respect for law and good governance were fundamental for a sound economy, and the basic well-being of its people. The former ruling class had imposed on the Congolese two wars in five years, the last one in 1997 being the most devastating. He did not intend to dwell on the violations committed by the former regime.
Today, the war was over and the Congo was looking towards a future involving national reconciliation, reconstruction of the country, and the launching of democratic processes, he said. From 5 to 14 January, a national forum had met in Brazzaville to discuss the practical modalities of achieving those objectives. The forum had decided to put in place a transitional parliament and had fixed the duration of the transitional period for three years. The national Government had focused its efforts on the priority objectives of national reconciliation, rehabilitation of its infrastructure, restoration of its State administration, reorganization of the economy and resumption of negotiations with international financial institutions. He said that the transitional timetable would be respected and that those results still needed to be consolidated. The events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained a cause of concern to the Congo since its stability depended in a large measure on that of its neighbours. That was why his Government reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It sought to find a peaceful solution to the conflict there.
Congo intended to honour its commitments under the provisions of the conventions of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations relating to refugees and displaced persons, he said. There had been allegations in certain media that there had been an agreement between the two Congos about transferring displaced Rwandans living in the Republic of the Congo to the Democratic Republic of Congo to participate in the war. The allegations of the transfer of displaced persons to participate in war was utterly false. The displaced Rwandans living in the Republic of the Congo were under the control of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In Angola, the hope aroused by the Lusaka Protocol had been dashed by the sudden change of heart of Jonas Savimbi, he said. The Congo firmly supported Angola's efforts to find a lasting peace, and for the rapid implementation of the Lusaka accords, and called on States to refrain from providing support to Mr. Savimbi. The Congo was always an advocate of negotiated solutions, and it welcomed the ceasefire in Guinea-Bissau. It also supported the efforts of the OAU regarding the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Congo was also concerned about crises and tensions in other parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, where the peace process was stalled, and in South Asia, where the recent nuclear tests had heightened already acute tensions there.
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The establishment of a just and lasting peace in the world required the international community to think of real solutions to real problems, he said. There was a fundamental connection between peace and development. The United Nations was gradually moving away from the principles of its founding fathers and the new trend was making it difficult to manage the financial crisis. Violence, famine, disease and poverty continued to afflict peoples. A variety of development programmes had failed to produce optimism. The export potential of developing countries had been wiped out by protectionism behind a new face. Official development assistance (ODA) was declining further, and the weakest economies were suffering under the issue of debt. The United Nations of today was no longer what it used to be, he added. It was time to reform the Organization, especially the Security Council, to make it more democratic and better adapted to meet the challenges of the next millennium.
BLAGOJ HANDZISKI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said that his country had managed to avoid the turmoil of war in the former Yugoslav territory and maintained internal peace and stability. It had finalized its reforms, democratized its society and overcome a deep financial and economic crisis. The crises in the region showed that when attempting to prevent and manage crises, the United Nations should concentrate on their root causes. Efforts should include developing a system of early warning and preventive diplomacy, and the deployment of preventive forces in the neighbouring areas. In 1992, when the war in Bosnia was endangering his country and the regions to the south, upon a request from his country, the Security Council established the first preventive United Nations mission - the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP).
Last year's crisis in Albania and the ongoing crisis in Kosovo would have had more negative consequences had the UNPREDEP not stayed in the Republic of Macedonia, he said. The UNPREDEP should stay in the Republic of Macedonia until the situation in Albania stabilized and the Kosovo crisis was peacefully settled.
Regarding the Kosovo crisis, he said while a solution might be possible within the framework of the Republic of Serbia, and within the internationally recognized borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the conditions had not yet been created for a lasting settlement. Therefore, he believed that the "interim solution" proposed by the United States and the Contact Group could lead toward resolving the crisis. Unless that temporary solution was accepted and implemented, his country was concerned about possible new movements of refugees, which could destabilize the region and countries beyond.
Accountability of holding war criminals accountable before international tribunals was one of the measures that could prevent violent conflicts, he continued. In that regard, his country fully supported the establishment of International Criminal Court.
He also said that as a contribution towards solving the problems connected with globalization, his country had submitted to the current Assembly session, a draft resolution addressing prevention of marginalization
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of small and weakened economies of developing countries and economies in transition.
ERIYA KATEGAYA, First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Uganda, said Africa faced a number of challenges that combined to create a very explosive atmosphere. Citing refugee problems, large numbers of internally displaced people, and a big political and humanitarian tragedy, he said there was an urgent need for the international community to support Africa's efforts to address the fundamental causes of the conflict. It had been alleged that ethnic differences were the prime causes of the conflict in the region, but Uganda believed that poor leadership, poverty and the low levels of economic development in the region were the main underlying causes.
Quoting from the Secretary-General's report on Africa, "Preventing such wars is no longer a matter of defending States or protecting allies. It is a matter of defending humanity". Conflict prevention, including post-conflict peace-building, required a sustained effort to infuse funds in the region, he added. Meanwhile, massive cuts in social spending and public investments with the attendant high levels of unemployment created new centres of discontent, and thus further fuelled the conflict. To cut aid from weak governments was counterproductive to the sincere efforts being made at reconciliation.
Discussing the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he sought to make clear Uganda's position in light of accusations made by other Member States. Uganda's interests were contingent upon the need to ensure total security in all parts of Uganda and the protection of its citizens' lives and property; and the desire to ensure maximum stability in the Great Lakes Region, because instability in any neighbouring country directly affected its security and economy. The situation in the Democratic Republic today made it necessary for Uganda to maintain a military presence which was crucial for its security.
Uganda had no territorial designs on the Democratic Republic, he stressed. However, any internal political arrangement in that country which did not cater to the legitimate security concerns of its neighbours, was Uganda's concern. Furthermore, any unilateral military intervention by individual countries, or sectional intervention by groups or countries, was unacceptable.
Addressing the issue of human rights, he said Uganda regretted that crimes were committed on a daily basis against Ugandans by surrogate forces of the Lord's Resistance Army. Innocent children were regularly abducted and subjected to forced labour, military service and other similar crimes with the support of the sponsors of those terrorist groups. Discussing the topic of terrorism in East Africa, he said the international community should collectively take action to deny sanctuary to those elements. Countries known to harbour such elements should be isolated and punished severely, so that human freedom would be protected.
SAMA BANYA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, said that he represented the legitimate Government of his
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country reinstated following the removal of the military junta by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with the support of civil defence units. The atrocities committed by the junta during its nine-month reign included rape, murder, mutilations, vandalism and the burning down of whole villages. Unarmed civilians, particularly women and children, had been the victims.
The wanton destruction perpetrated by the junta, and much earlier by the Revolutionary United Front, had created a great need for revamping the economy and for reconstruction, he said. The humanitarian crisis, in terms of refugees and displaced persons, was immense. Disarmament and demobilization, resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction required a great deal of resources. Some pledges of international assistance had been fulfilled, but much more remained to be done. Those who had yet to pledge and those who had yet to deliver on their promises were urged to do all they could to help.
The prompt action of the ECOWAS had demonstrated the ability of regional organizations, he said. The Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) had the capacity to deliver, but it needed tools which only the international community could provide. The peace and security achieved with enormous sacrifice on the part of the people of Sierra Leone had yet to be consolidated. Therefore, the international community should maintain its presence in the country until a new national army could be created.
CASIMIR OYE MBA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Gabon, said Central African heads of States meeting in September to discuss the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had affirmed support for the country's President, Laurent Kabila; called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of foreign troops; and urged respect for the nation's territorial integrity. At the summit, delegations decided to create a follow-up committee, under the leadership of the President of Gabon, to establish a regional early warning system and peacekeeping mechanism.
The phenomenon of transnational populations was a major contributor to the instability of Africa. The situation of communities dispersed over several States due to historical reasons deserved international attention. The founding fathers of the OAU had foreseen that problem and had written in its Charter about the intangibility of Africa's inherited colonial borders. Redrawing the boundaries of States appeared risky. Gabon supported the approach calling for recognition of Africa's history and for subregional integration. The resurgence of nationalism and the lack of respect for human rights inevitably brought disorder to nations. Gabon fully supported participatory democracy and would hold presidential election in two months.
During a regional conference in May in Equatorial Guinea on democratic institutions and peace in Central Africa, participants had recommended the establishment of a Central African subregional parliament to serve as a forum for exchange on democratization. Peace would remain threatened if democratic
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values were not upheld. Burdens, such as poverty, aggravated economic and social conditions. A new partnership to eliminate poverty and promote well-being was needed. Liberalization of economic activities and the restructuring of large private enterprises were necessary. He noted that international financial institutions had classified Gabon as a high- intermediate income country, a classification which was unjust. He asked those institutions to apply an aid assessment criteria, as Gabon was a developing country.
Action on Draft
MOCHAMAD SLAMET HIDAYAT (Indonesia), introducing a draft resolution on assistance to Bangladesh in the wake of the devastating floods on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the following countries had joined the list of co-sponsors: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, United States and Ukraine. He said the magnitude of the floods had created a calamity far beyond the capacity of Bangladesh to handle. The international community had to show solidarity in mobilizing resources to assist the Bangladeshi people. Assistance was needed to alleviate the present suffering and for implementing plans and programmes for seeking long-term solutions.
HANS PETER MANZ (Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed deep concern over the loss of life and destruction of property caused by the floods. The situation had posed a major challenge to the development efforts of Bangladesh. It was for that reason that the European Union had co-sponsored the resolution.
TAKESHI KAMITANI (Japan) expressed concern about the extensive damage caused by the floods. At the end of August, Japan had provided humanitarian aid to Bangladesh, including medicines and water-purifying tablets. Today, the Government of Japan had decided to dispatch a disaster relief team to Bangladesh and would provide $400,000 in humanitarian aid.
The Assembly then decided to adopt the draft resolution by consensus.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), speaking after the resolution's adoption, said the resolution would contribute to harmonizing the efforts of different entities providing relief assistance. He urged the United Nations to take the necessary measures to assist his country regarding long-term planning for disaster preparedness and prevention programmes. He expressed his appreciation to Indonesia, who had introduced the resolution on behalf of the Group of 77, and China, and to all the delegations who spontaneously came forward to support the resolution at such short notice.
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