17 February 2009
Secretary-General
SG/T/2650

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN ETHIOPIA, 31 JANUARY – 3 FEBRUARY


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madam Ban Soon-taek arrived at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport in the evening of Saturday, 31 January.


On Sunday, the Secretary-General met first with President Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa to discuss regional issues.  He also met with President Omer Hassan al-Bashir of the Sudan.  The Secretary-General expressed his deep concern regarding the situation in Muhajeria and urged the President to uphold the safety of civilians and ensure humanitarian access.  The Secretary-General also discussed the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and emphasized that both missions, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), remain fully committed to working for the people of the Sudan and implementing their mandates to support peace.   The Secretary-General requested that the Government uphold its responsibilities for the safety of United Nations personnel and assets.


The Secretary-General also met on Sunday with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.  The Secretary-General, while welcoming the agreement of the parties to form a Government as a first step towards full democracy, urged President Mugabe to take immediate measures to address the humanitarian and economic crises.  He further urged him to uphold the human rights and democratic freedoms of all Zimbabweans and promote national reconciliation.


The Secretary-General also discussed the deployment by 15 March of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) with President Idriss Déby Itno of Chad.


Other meetings that day were with John McNee, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, and with Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).  He discussed at length the upcoming G-20 summit in London with Mark Malloch Brown, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations, stressing that it would be important for the Summit to make a strong statement on climate change and the Millennium Development Goals.


The Secretary-General also met with United Nations staff based in Ethiopia, before attending a dinner hosted by Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, in honour of Heads of State and Government present in Addis Ababa to attend the Summit of the African Union.


On Monday, the Secretary-General had a working breakfast with Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union Commission.  The Secretary-General expressed appreciation for the strong partnership between the United Nations and the African Union.  They discussed the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the recent rapprochement between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.  On Zimbabwe, the Secretary-General welcomed the formation of a Government of National Unity and reiterated the United Nations’ commitment to helping resolve the humanitarian crisis in the country.  On Somalia, they discussed the support and reinforcement of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the possible deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force.  The meeting also touched upon the situation in the Sudan, Guinea, Mauritania and Western Sahara.


The Secretary-General later met with the Prime Minister of Egypt, Ahmed Nazif, at the African Union Conference Centre.


Following that meeting, he attended the opening ceremony of the twelfth African Union Summit.  In his address, Mr. Ban pledged continuing United Nations support for Africa and praised progress in the efforts to form Governments in Somalia and Zimbabwe.  (See Press Release SG/SM/12084.)


He said that all of us can take pleasure in the progress towards a political settlement in Somalia, and he congratulated the newly elected President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.  The people of Somalia, he added, must build on their excellent start in Djibouti to achieve a truly national political and social compact.


On Zimbabwe, he urged all sides to build on the hard-won breakthrough which had taken place, so that the international community could partner with Zimbabwe in meeting the desperate humanitarian needs of its people.  He added that he would immediately send a high-level humanitarian mission to Zimbabwe.


The Secretary-General continued his bilateral meetings with Heads of State and Government.  With President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, of the United Republic of Tanzania, he discussed Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan peace process.  He also discussed regional issues with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, including the northern Uganda peace process and Somalia; with Prime MinisterSeini Oumarou of the Niger, the Secretary-General expressed the hope that the upcoming presidential and legislative elections in the Niger would be inclusive and transparent, and reassured the Prime Minister of the United Nations’ readiness to support the Niger’s efforts.


Meeting with President Amadou Toumani Touré of Mali, the Secretary-General encouraged him to continue with his efforts of peaceful dialogue with the rebels.  The Secretary-General stressed the need for concerted action to curb insecurity in the Sahelo-Saharan region.  He also met President Ismael Omar Guelleh of Djiboutiand expressed concern about the border tensions between Djibouti and Eritrea.  On Somalia, the Secretary-General welcomed recent positive developments; expressed appreciation for the support provided to the United Nations by Djibouti and stressed the need for the Somali parties to work towards overcoming national divisions and strengthening relations with neighbouring countries.


He later met on the same issues with the President of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.  He also held a bilateral meeting with Ahmed Rashid Beebeejaun, Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius, and met later that evening with Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi, Leader of the Revolution of Libya.  The Secretary-General welcomed Libya’s efforts to address the conflict in Chad and improve the relations of that country with the Sudan.  They also discussed the situation in Gaza.


Speaking at a press conferencethat day with his senior advisers and special envoys for Africa, the Secretary-General expressed his concerns about violence in Darfur.  He noted that dramatic events had unfolded in Muhajeria, and that he had urged President Al-Bashir for maximum restraint, and had urged the Justice and Equality Movement to withdraw from the city to protect innocent civilians.


He also spoke about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, saying that the spirit behind the new cooperation in the east should be the basis for building lasting peace.  He also expressed his concern about recent developments in Madagascar and urged all parties in that country to address their differences peacefully and through existing constitutional mechanisms.


On Tuesday morning, the Secretary-General and Madam Ban departed Addis Ababa to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.


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For information media • not an official record