|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, at Extraordinary African Summit on Security Issues, Stresses
Need for Continued Attention to Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Somalia, Libya
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on Peace and Security Issues in Africa in Addis Ababa, 25 May:
I welcome the holding of this Extraordinary Summit of the African Union at a time of historic developments on the continent. I know that the subject of this Summit meeting is Libya. However, let me say a few words on our own work in other parts of the world.
Here today, I wish to focus on four regional issues that need our continued attention at this time: Côte d’Ivoire; Sudan; Somalia; and Libya.
First, Côte d’Ivoire. The inauguration of President [Alassane] Ouattara was historic not just for Côte d’Ivoire and the subregion, but for the entire African continent. The AU’s support to the Ivorian people was crucial in ending the crisis. Without the principled position taken by the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other partners, Côte d’Ivoire would not have the fresh beginning it enjoys today.
The Ivorian people did not accept this violation of their rights. Instead, they insisted on democracy and they prevailed. In doing so, they sent a message that political leaders, everywhere, must respect the will of the people. During my recent visit, I saw signs of normalcy returning. However, the recovery is still slow, and the security situation remains precarious.
The Government will need time to reconstruct the disintegrated police and gendarmerie, and to rebuild and develop the capacity of the Armed Forces. The risk of renewed armed conflict is high. Militias and mercenaries are trying to regroup in the traditionally volatile west. President Ouattara and his Government have identified clear priorities on which they require our support: demobilization of militias; the collection of illicit weapons; and safeguarding the borders against mercenaries and weapons trafficking.
Côte d’Ivoire must also pursue national reconciliation, address impunity and accountability, rebuild national institutions, more firmly establish the rule of law, and prepare for legislative elections. The United Nations will work closely with the AU, ECOWAS and other international partners to support the Ivorian Government in these critical areas.
The situation in Sudan poses serious security, political and humanitarian challenges. As we prepare for the establishment of a new State in the South on 9 July, key post-independence arrangements must be agreed by the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] and the NCP [National Congress Party] if the secession is to be peaceful.
Again, a critical element has been our close cooperation with the African Union High-level Implementation Panel. The talks have centred on oil-revenue sharing, border security, citizenship, debts and assets, and international legal obligations. The question of Abyei remains a serious concern, especially given the escalation of violence.
I have also called on both parties to cease their military operations, withdraw all forces and armed elements from the Abyei Area, and desist from further acts of aggression, including attacks on United Nations peacekeepers. We must all impress on the parties that military confrontation in Abyei is not an option.
With regard to Darfur, I remain very concerned about fighting in the north. The Joint Mediation will host the All-Darfur Stakeholder Conference in Doha from 27 to 31 May. Both the African Union and the United Nations have agreed that this Conference should mark the end of this phase of the Mediation.
A joint AU-UN workshop is to be held in mid-June to discuss next steps. UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] and the AU High-level Implementation Panel continue to plan for the Darfur political process in anticipation of its commencement following the conclusion of the Doha process.
Let me turn now to the situation in Somalia. Over the past year, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has made striking gains against Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu. You can be very proud of the successes of AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] in recent months. I commend the courage and commitment of the leaders and soldiers of Uganda, Burundi and TFG forces. The United Nations continues to do everything possible to support the operation through our United Nations Support Office.
Now that there has been progress on the security track, the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) must deliver on the political and development tracks. The peace process is at a critical juncture. The Security Council and donors are losing patience with the political tensions within the Somalia leadership. The TFIs must also show real progress on key tasks such as constitution-making, political outreach, reconciliation, the provision of basic services and improvements in security. I am also very concerned about the humanitarian crisis. Our cooperation in Somalia has been truly exceptional and is finally beginning to show signs of success. We must persevere.
Let me now turn to the situation in Libya. I welcome the spirit of collaboration that has characterized our efforts. Recent meetings, including of the AU’s High-level Ad-Hoc Committee on Libya, have demonstrated our shared resolve to bring an end to the crisis and usher in an era of democracy and peace.
In April, in Cairo, the African Union joined other regional organizations and the United Nations to chart a common approach by the international community. Also last month, here in Addis Ababa, my Special Envoy, Mr. Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, attended the consultative meeting of the High-level Ad-Hoc Committee. And again in Rome last month, our regional organizations met to further our dialogue.
These combined efforts have the same objectives and are consistent with Security Council resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011): the protection of civilians; an immediate cessation of hostilities and all acts of violence; provision of humanitarian assistance; and political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution.
Despite some speculation about differences, all of us, without equivocation, condemned the violent events. All of us recognize the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, dignity and justice. The United Nations acted to prevent the catastrophe that was waiting to happen. Since the adoption of resolution 1973 (2011), we have all sought to end the violence. The AU and others have elaborated road maps for resolving the situation. These plans have many more areas of commonality than of disagreement.
My Special Envoy, Mr. Al-Khatib, has travelled to Libya seven times, where he discussed the need to engage both parties in discussions to create a political process focusing on transition. The aim is to implement the basic elements of resolution 1973 (2011): unrestricted humanitarian access; a verifiable ceasefire; and political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution. He will continue to work closely with regional organizations, including the African Union.
Last night, I spoke at length once again with the Libyan Prime Minister to listen to his concerns over the recent intensified bombing campaign. I reiterated the urgent need for a real ceasefire and serious negotiations on a transition to a Government that fully meets the aspirations of the Libyan people.
Yesterday, my Special Envoy met with representatives of the Transitional National Council in Doha. He will travel to Tripoli again next week. Both parties reiterated their continued commitment to work through my Special Envoy. The next step will be for my Special Envoy to engage the parties in indirect negotiations in an effort to define the nature of the transitional period.
The main victims of the heavy fighting in densely populated areas are unarmed Libyans and foreign migrant workers trapped by the fighting. The situation in the war-affected areas is particularly worrying. We are concerned about fuel shortages, decreasing food supplies and low stocks of medicines. Neighbouring countries, meanwhile, face the dual burden of a drop in remittances and the need to reintegrate thousands of former expatriates.
At the London Conference in March, I agreed that the United Nations would coordinate the international community’s post-conflict efforts in Libya. My Special Adviser, Ian Martin, has initiated a pre-assessment process focusing on six areas: political, security apparatus, rule of law and human rights, economic recovery, public administration and physical infrastructure. Of course, our planning will be guided by the principle that the fate of Libya is to be decided by the Libyan people, and that their representatives must determine what assistance they would like from the international community.
In closing I want to say once again how much I value the close cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations. The challenges are large, but I am confident that we can overcome them by working closely together.
* *** *