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United Republic of Tanzania
H.E. Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President

23 September 2008

Statement Summary

JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Chairman of the African Union, highlighted Africa’s recent strides in political stability and peace, and the “blossoming” of economies in many nations on the continent.  He noted the continent’s “embrace” of democracy, good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights, evidenced by democratic elections in “a good number” of African countries in the past two years.  Apart from the situations in Kenya and Zimbabwe, there are fewer conflicts on the continent today, Africans themselves, through the African Union and their regional economic organizations, had been proactive in monitoring elections and resolving conflicts.  “ Africa has become of age”, Mr. Kikwete said, with “the old principle of non-interference in internal affairs” being replaced by “non-indifference.”

However, weaknesses still remained in the African Union’s capacity for early warning, conflict prevention and resolution.  He called upon the United Nations, the European Union, and other nations and world institutions to continue their support of the African Union and regional mechanisms, as well as peacekeeping operations, and recognized their generous support thus far.

Though the humanitarian crisis in Darfur persisted, he noted that “there may be some encouraging signs of improvement”, and urged deployment of the entire contingent of African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) forces, resumption and conclusion of peace talks between rebels and the Government of the Sudan, unencumbered humanitarian operations and dispensation of justice.  In recent discussions with Sudanese Government officials as well as UNAMID officials, he had come to an understanding on the way forward, and hoped that progress could be made.  He reiterated the African Union’s belief that the indictment of Sudanese President Al-Bashir would complicate UNAMID’s deployment and the management of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.  Deferring the indictment should not be seen as condoning impunity, but as “the most expedient thing to do now” in order to first focus on the immediate matters of saving lives and easing the suffering of the people in Darfur.

Regarding Somalia, the United Nations had been increasingly called on to take over peacekeeping responsibilities from the African Union at the earliest possible time, before the African Union mission was overwhelmed.  He pledged more proactive commitment to work with the United Nations and regional leaders in seeking lasting peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly in the eastern region, where fighting continues between Government and rebel forces.

Zimbabwe had just last week achieved a “landmark breakthrough” with the signing of an agreement which ended the standoff between political factions, and formulated plans to establish an inclusive Government.  He congratulated President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Minister Arthur Mutambara, as well as Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, for their statesmanship.

On the current food and oil situation reaching “crisis proportions”, sub-Saharan Africa had been cited as the region affected most, being home to the majority of least developed countries where, in the past year, food import bills had increased by over 40 per cent and oil prices increased over 100 per cent since 2005.  The United Nations and the international financial institutions should act urgently to reverse the deepening crisis of global financial markets, which, along with the food and oil crises, threatened to erode “the humble gains” made in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and sustaining macroeconomic stability in Africa.  Here, he appealed to Member States to stand by their commitments to assist the development needs of Africa.

On the issue of United Nations reform, he noted that Africa was the only continent without a permanent seat on the Security Council, and demanded African Union members received two permanent seats on the Council with veto power, as well as an additional two non-permanent seats.  The United Republic of Tanzania, as one of eight pilot countries in the United Nations “delivering as one”, had shown the possibility of fulfilling this reform initiative, and encouraged advancement of the United Nations system-wide coherence.

[Source: GA/10749]

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