SECURITY COUNCIL, RENEWING MANDATE OF MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN, CONDEMNS RECENT FIGHTING, URGES END TO USE OF FORCE

12 November 1998
SC/6595

SECURITY COUNCIL, RENEWING MANDATE OF MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN, CONDEMNS RECENT FIGHTING, URGES END TO USE OF FORCE

12 November 1998

Press ReleaseSC/6595

SECURITY COUNCIL, RENEWING MANDATE OF MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN, CONDEMNS RECENT FIGHTING, URGES END TO USE OF FORCE

19981112 Unanimous Resolution 1206 (1998) Also Seeks Expeditions Inquiry into Murders of Four United Nations Observers in July

The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Tajikistan (UNMOT) for another six months until 15 May 1999.

By unanimously adopting resolution 1206 (1998), the Council strongly condemned recent fighting in the Leninabad area initiated by forces trying to hinder the peace process in Tajikistan. And it called on all concerned to refrain from the use of force.

The Council also called on the parties to take vigorous efforts to implement the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan, including the Protocol on military issues, and to create conditions for holding election as early as possible in 1999.

Strongly condemning the murders of four members of UNMOT in July, the Council expressed deep concern at the insufficient progress in establishing all the relevant facts. It recognized that completion of the investigation into the case was important for the resumption of UNMOT's field activities. The Council urged the Tajik Government to complete the investigation expeditiously and bring to justice all those found to be responsible for the crime. It also urged the leaders of the United Tajikistan Opposition to continue to cooperate fully.

Further, the Council called on the parties to cooperate further to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Peacekeeping forces and other international personnel.

It also called on Member States and others concerned to respond promptly and generously to the 1998 consolidated appeal for Tajikistan that was launched in Geneva in March.

The representative of Tajikistan addressed the Council.

The meeting was called to order at 12:43 p.m. and adjourned at 12:49 p.m.

Council Work Programme

When the Council met this morning it had before it the Secretary- General's report on the situation in Tajikistan (document S/1998/1029).

The Secretary-General says there are formidable difficulties on almost all the issues regulated in the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan. Much remains to be done before elections and the installation of a new national Government and the process will require active international support. He recommends that the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) be extended for another six months, until 15 May 1999.

Should the Council decide to extend the mandate, the cost of maintaining the Mission will be limited to $20 million gross -- the amount estimated to cover the 12-month period from 1 July to 30 June 1999. As of 15 October, unpaid assessed contributions to the UNMOT special account from the inception of the Mission to 31 October is $9.2 million.

According to the report, after several weeks of relative stagnation in the peace process, another crisis erupted on 22 September, when Otakhon Latifi, a prominent member of the United Tajik Opposition and the senior member of the Commission on National Reconciliation, was murdered outside his Dushanbe apartment by an unknown gunman. The Tajik Government accused the Opposition of violating the General Agreement and its members of being involved in criminal activities. The United Tajik Opposition leadership refuted the allegations and, on 25 September, suspended activities in both the Commission on National Reconciliation and the Government, conditioning their return on the arrest of Mr. Latifi's assassin and concrete Government measures to improve security for its members.

After meetings on 26 and 28 September, President Emomali Rakhmonov and Commission Chairman Abdullo Nuri issued a 10-point statement outlining measures to resolve the crisis and expedite implementation of the General Agreement, the report says. Since then, the two leaders have met regularly and the President has ordered a reverification of the status of implementation of the military protocol. A joint commission has been set up to monitor the Government's investigation into Mr. Latifi's killing and security for United Tajik Opposition representatives has been bolstered. The Government and the Opposition grouping appealed to unaffiliated groups to surrender their weapons and return to civilian life by 7 October. On 11 October, the Government, with the endorsement of the Opposition grouping, initiated ongoing military action against two armed groups in the area east of Dushanbe. Several fighters from the groups were reportedly killed; however, the leaders are still at large.

Regarding the status of the General Agreement, the new deadlines adopted by the reconciliation commission on 30 July have lapsed. Stages I and II of

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the military protocol (registration, collection of weapons and oath-taking) are near completion. A reverification of the process is under way. Meanwhile, the Joint Central Review Commission, set up to evaluate the fitness of United Tajik Opposition personnel for continued military service (stage III of the protocol), has begun work. There has been no movement on the reform of the power structures.

There has been no progress in implementation of the amnesty law, and no action to revise the electoral law, the report says. The Opposition group has submitted its candidates for the Central Electoral Commission. The naming of Zokir Vazirov to the post of Deputy Prime Minister completes the appointment of opposition members to cabinet-level posts in accordance with the 30 per cent quota, except for the defence portfolio. On 26 October, President Rakhmonov wrote to Mr. Nuri, confirming the allocation of 19 senior government posts to the United Tajik Opposition, but there has been no movement on the allocation of posts at the regional level. The ban on United Tajik Opposition political parties has not yet been lifted, pending that group's announcement of the demobilization of its armed forces.

Despite extensive debate on constitutional issues the report states, there are no clear proposals. The revised law on political parties will be considered in the next Parliamentary session, scheduled for mid-November. The return of refugees from Afghanistan is complete and repatriation from Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries has continued with the assistance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Contact Group of guarantor States and international organizations (Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)) provided valuable support. The proposed foreign ministers' meeting of the Contact Group has been put on hold.

The security situation in parts of the country was having a negative impact on humanitarian and other assistance, particularly in the Karategin valley, where United Nations activities are suspended, the report says. The 1998 consolidated appeal for Tajikistan has received only 30 per cent of the total funds requested. Security in Tajikistan is still precarious and crime is prevalent. On 17 August, an UNMOT security officer was found shot dead in his apartment in Dushanbe and the Government and the United Nations has investigated the case. In response to warnings by Tajik authorities about a renegade group operating in Dushanbe to destabilize the situation, and possibly take hostages, the Secretary-General authorized the temporary relocation to Tashkent of non-essential international United Nations staff, many of them military observers who have since been repatriated. The few who remained in Tashkent were recently brought back to Dushanbe.

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The number of politically motivated crimes has increased, the report continues. There has been some progress in the investigation of the July killing of four UNMOT personnel. On 1 September, three suspects were handed over by the United Tajik Opposition and brought to Dushanbe for further investigation. An Opposition field commander in the Komsomolabad area was alleged to have instigated the killing. The Government and Opposition group are discussing how and where he should be questioned.

For security reasons and pending the investigation into the murder of UNMOT personnel, the Mission's field activities are suspended. UNMOT's military component has been temporarily reduced by 36 military observers. As of October, UNMOT had 170 civilian staff, 54 internationally recruited, and 33 military observers. Switzerland will withdraw from UNMOT because of security concerns and its three-member medical team will be replaced by personnel from Bangladesh. The overall number of military observers was based on the peak requirement during the first two stages of the military protocol which is nearing completion. The military component will be maintained at 30 and the matter kept under review depending on developments.

The Secretary-General concludes that since the September crisis the parties have been gradually working towards declaring the completion of stages I and II outlined in the protocol on military issues, notwithstanding certain shortcomings, for example control over the arms of the United Tajik Opposition fighters. The group is to announce during stage II the disbandment of its armed units, which would open the door to lifting the ban on the activities by the Opposition political parties. There has been further movement on the appointment of Opposition personalities to government positions.

In May, the Parliament's decision to amend the bill on political parties to exclude the Islamic Revival Party, the largest component of the United Tajik Opposition, threatened to undermine the basis of the peace agreement. The crisis was overcome and, hopefully, the Parliament will consider the revised bill at the mid-November session, taking into account the formula agreed on by the Conciliation Commission. The Parliament based its May decision on a Constitutional provision stipulating that Tajikistan is a secular State. The debate over this provision and its meaning has continued, but there are recent indications that both sides may seek a compromise solution.

The precarious security situation in Tajikistan hinders the work of UNMOT and other United Nations agencies and programmes, the report says. While authorities have tried to improve the protection of international personnel, the Secretary-General says he is deeply concerned there has not been more progress in establishing the facts concerning the killing of the four UNMOT members in July. As long as the circumstances surrounding the crime, particularly the motive, are unknown and until appropriate action is

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taking, United Nations personnel will need to operate with utmost caution, even if this hinders their duties.

Text of Resolution

The text of the resolution 1206 (1998) reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling all its relevant resolutions and the statements of its President,

"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Tajikistan of 3 November 1998 (S/1998/1029),

"Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Tajikistan and to the inviolability of its borders,

"Welcoming the movement towards the implementation of the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan (S/1997/510) and the effective maintenance of the ceasefire between the Government of Tajikistan and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), and noting that there remain difficulties to be received in this regard,

"Welcoming further the intensified regular contacts between the leaderships of the Government of Tajikistan and the UTO which helped to contain the crises in the period covered by the report of the Secretary- General, confirmed the commitment of both parties to the peace process and contributed to the implementation of the General Agreement,

"Welcoming the maintenance of close contact by the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) with the parties, as well as its cooperative liaison with the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (the COS Peacekeeping Forces), the Russian border forces and the Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,

"Welcoming also the contribution of the Contact Group of Guarantor States and International Organizations to the peace process,

"Expressing concern at the precarious security situation in some parts of Tajikistan,

"Deeply concerned that there has not been sufficient progress in establishing all relevant facts concerning the murder of four members of UNMOT in July 1998,

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"1. Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 3 November 1998;

"2. Strongly condemns the recent fighting in the Leninabad area initiated by forces trying to hinder the peace process in Tajikistan, and calls upon all concerned to refrain from the use of force;

"3. Calls upon the parties to undertake vigourous efforts to implement fully the General Agreement, including the Protocol on military issues (S/1997/209, annex II), and to create conditions for the holding of elections at the earliest possible time in 1999;

"4. Notes with appreciation the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, commends the efforts of all the personnel of UNMOT and encourages them to continue assisting the parties in the implementation of the General Agreement;

"5. Welcomes the continued contribution made by the CIS Peacekeeping Forces in assisting the parties in the implementation of the General Agreement in coordination with all concerned;

"6. Strongly condemns the murder of four members of UNMOT, recognizes that the completion of the investigation into this case is important for the resumption of the field activities of UNMOT, urges the Government of Tajikistan to complete the investigation expeditiously and to bring to justice all those found to be responsible for the crime and also urges the UTO leaders to continue to cooperate fully with these efforts;

"7. Acknowledges the efforts of the Government of Tajikistan to enhance the protection of international personnel and calls upon the parties to cooperate further in ensuring the safety and freedom of movement of the personnel of the United Nations, the CIS Peacekeeping Forces and other international personnel;

"8. Notes with satisfaction the meeting of the Consultative Group held by the World Bank on 20 May 1998, and calls upon Member States and others concerned to respond promptly and generously to the consolidated appeal for Tajikistan for 1998 launched in Geneva in March 1998;

"9. Recognizes that comprehensive international support remains essential for the intensification of the peace process in Tajikistan and reminds both parties that the ability of the international community to mobilize and to continue assistance for Tajikistan is linked to the security of the personnel of UNMOT and international organizations, and of humanitarian workers;

"10. Decides to extend the mandate of UNMOT for a period of six months until 15 May 1999;

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"11. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Council informed of all significant developments, in particular regarding the security situation and measures taken to enhance the security of UNMOT, and also requests him to report within three months of the adoption of this resolution on its implementation;

"12. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."

Statement

RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said his Government was deeply distressed at the murder last July of four members of the United Nations Observer Mission in Tajikistan (UNMOT). It was taking firm measures and was working with the cooperation of the United Tajik Opposition to resolve the case. Measures had also been implemented to improve the safety of international personnel.

He said the Government of Tajikistan shared the basic conclusions of the Secretary-General's report. The peace process was gaining momentum, but the Government was fully aware that a great deal of work still needed to be done, together with the United Tajik Opposition leadership, to resolve problems and achieve the goals of the General Agreement. The regular meetings between President Emomali Rakhmonov and the Chairman of the Commission on National Reconciliation, Abdullo Nuri, were the key to overcoming existing and potential difficulties on the complex path to national reconciliation.

The peace process had been seriously threatened by recent hostilities carried out by a group of armed rebels in the north of Tajikistan, he said. Homes had been destroyed and many civilians had been killed. The rebels had operated not without external support from those trying to threaten the peace process. The President had embarked on a course to protect the peace process and had taken a firm position to build a democratic society of law.

The Government would not be distracted from that path. It greatly appreciated the help it had received from its partners in CIS, particularly the Russian Federation, in warning of threats to the peace process. The Government was counting on continued cooperation to prevent any new attempt to strike a blow to national reconciliation. The draft resolution demonstrated the Council's dedication to the peace process in his country.

The Council then adopted the resolution unanimously.

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For information media. Not an official record.