Secretary-General's press conference
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 27 February 2009SG: Ladies and gentlemen,
As my visit here comes to a close, I wish to express my profound gratitude to President [Jakaya] Kikwete and the Tanzanian people for their warm and generous hospitality.
Tanzania's relationship with the United Nations is strong and growing stronger. And that partnership is today vividly illustrated by this country's selfless gift to the United Nations of one of its brightest talents in the person of my Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Asha Rose Migiro.
I would like to express my deep admiration for the leadership of President Kikwete .He has demonstrated that leadership as President of the African Union. I count on that leadership and on his commitment in working together for the achievement of the goals and objectives of the United Nations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Tanzania continues to provide a model of stability and democratic transition in Africa. It continues to play its historic mediation role in the region, especially in the peace processes in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe. The crises in these countries were among the issues I discussed with President Kikwete and my other interlocutors here. I also discussed these issues with South Africa's leadership when I visited there two days ago. I sought the advice of the Tanzanian leadership, and I reiterated the United Nations' readiness to remain an essential partner in the search for a solution to these crises.
As I said earlier, President Kikwete and I discussed the situation in Burundi.
Burundi has made some progress since the Regional Summit of last year, which gave fresh impetus to the peace process in that country. However, delays in the implementation of the Bujumbura Declaration are of great concern to me. Such delays are particularly worrisome since the electoral process is scheduled to start soon. In order to resolve this impasse, I hope that Tanzania would support the continued deployment of the African Union Special Task Force.
On the DRC, I am encouraged by the recent rapprochement between Rwanda and the DRC. However, the political landscape in eastern DRC is still fluid. It will be important that my Special Envoy, Olusegun Obasanjo, and the mediator for the AU and the International Conference of the Great Lakes, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, who are facilitating the inter-Congolese dialogue, continue to work with the parties towards a lasting political solution.
I also shared my concerns about the political situation and the worsening humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe with President Kikwete and other leaders here.
I traveled today to Arusha, where Tanzania has been hosting the International Criminal Court for Rwanda (ICTR). I was deeply moved and proud to visit an institution that has contributed so much to the cause of justice in favour of all the victims of genocide in Rwanda and beyond. The ICTR has become one of the strongest signals that impunity cannot endure and that individual rights and dignity must, and will be, respected. The Tribunal has also contributed greatly to the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in Rwanda and also in the whole Great Lakes region. Let me say it again loud and clear: There can be no peace without justice.
President Kikwete and I discussed climate change during our different meetings. Tanzania, like much of Africa, is already experiencing the severity of the impact of climate change. With some 80 percent of its people deriving their livelihoods from agriculture, Tanzania is faced with the challenges of desertification, the changing patterns of rainy seasons and the occurrence of prolonged droughts in some areas.
A stark illustration of climate change in this country is the receding ice cap on [Mount] Kilimanjaro. I had been told that it had retreated dramatically just these past few decades. Today, I had the sobering privilege of flying over that majestic mountain. I saw almost no snow or ice on the Kilimanjaro. I thought of the small farmers deprived of a precious reserve of water. I was told of villages on the slope of the mountain, now plagued with malaria, where none existed before.
This is an alarming situation that requires a swift and concerted global response. And Tanzania should remain engaged in addressing this most serious crisis of our times, and the response from the leadership here is encouraging.
Another important objective is achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). I congratulate the Tanzanian Government for its achievements on many of the MDGs' major pillars .One of the striking examples is Tanzania's massive gains in primary education enrolment – 97.2 per cent in 2008, which puts it right on track to reach universal primary education, an exemplary model for other African countries. It has done so by achieving at the same time gender parity in primary school education.
I am also impressed by the results so far of the One UN reform process that a small group of countries, including Tanzania, are piloting. This unique and experimental process ensures that UN agencies in a given country are not just housed together but also work in a more coherent, focused, and strategic manner. It also ensures that their work is in line with the needs and priorities of their host country.
Mostly, it ensures more effective delivery of support to the Tanzanian people, and I was proud today to inaugurate with President [Amani Abeid] Karume of Zanzibar one of these One UN Offices in Stone Town.
I commended the Government on the generosity of its humanitarian response to the region's refugees. This generosity reflects the compassion of the Tanzanian people and continues a tradition pioneered by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. We particularly commend the Government's intention to offer Tanzanian citizenship to 170,000 long-term Burundian refugees. We noted the positive impact this gesture can have on regional stability. If countries were ranked on a humanitarian scale, Tanzania would be a superpower. The UN stands ready to support the Tanzanian people and Government in this endeavor.
For all of this we are very thankful to you, Mr. President, and to the great people of this beautiful land, Tanzania. Thank you very much.
Q: I wanted to ask, the CNDP is supposed to strike a deal with the Congolese Government. To what extent is do you think there security on the ground in the eastern Congo?
SG: I am going to visit the DRC and meet with President [Joseph] Kabila, and the day after tomorrow, I will be visiting Rwanda and meet with President [Paul] Kagame. It is encouraging that two presidents, President Kabila and President Kagame, are now maintaining an improved relationship through their rapprochement and through their joint operations. We have seen an encouraging development of the situation. However, this situation is still fraught with many uncertainties and difficulties. Unless it is nurtured carefully, then this process may be in danger. The main purpose of my going there and meeting with the leaders of the two countries is to support their rapprochement, their cooperation, and to address all the security concerns, the illegal armed groups who have been threatening the peace and security there. We need to bring peace and security there. The Congolese people have suffered too much for too long. There have been serious violations of humanitarian and human rights law. International humanitarian law has been abused and violated, and sexual crimes have been prevalent. We must put an end to these unacceptable crimes. The international community has been supporting these efforts. My special envoy, former Nigerian President [Olusegun] Obasanjo, and AU co-facilitator, former Tanzanian President [Benjamin] Mkapa, have been working tirelessly, meeting all the leaders and all the relevant stakeholders there. We hope to continue to support their facilitating role, and this is the main purpose of my going there.
Q: Thank you, your excellency. There is also a violation of human rights against people with albinism. We have so far reported cases of 45 people with albinism who have been murdered since November 2007. Do you think that the United Nations should intervene now? And if yes, how, in order to stop these killings in Tanzania and elsewhere – because also we know that in Burundi, seven people to date have been murdered?
SG: We have been receiving these apparent complaints about violations of human rights concerning people with albinism. This again is a very serious issue, and I am very sad to see to hear about this happening, this superstitious behaviour – first of all, it is not based on science. That must be stopped. I raised and discussed this issue with President Kikwete yesterday in my meeting with him, and I drew attention very seriously with President Kikwete. He is also very much aware of this situation and said he will do his best to address and put an end to this situation. He even mentioned that, as part of his efforts to eradicate this kind of violation, he also has selected an albino parliamentarian. I met her yesterday, and it was a very moving experience for me. I very sincerely hope that we will see an end to this unacceptable practice, this unacceptable violation of human rights.
Q: Kofi Annan had started a good programme in Sudan for disbanding Omar al-Bashir, but his time came up and he did not finish that programme. What are you having in place for Omar al-Bashir? Secondly, there are those thugs who have entered the statehouse in [inaudible] Guinea, using their own door. How are we making them accountable? Can the United Nations disband them from there? Third and last, is the United Nations insisting us to establish the African Court of Justice? And very finally ?[inaudible]
SG: The foreign minister was very strict in his rules of engagement. My rules of engagement have always been: one person, one question and one time. Now, I will try to answer your question about Sudan. This situation in Darfur and Sudan as a whole has many aspects, many dimensions. There is a political dimension, which is represented by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). And there is a humanitarian dimension, where there are hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons suffering from the lack of safety and security. For that, the United Nations has decided together with the African Union to deploy UNAMID, the UN-AU Mission in Darfur. We are in the process of deploying, though behind schedule, we have deployed 60 percent of the mandated ceiling by the end of December. I am doing my best efforts to deploy as fast as possible; my target is 80 percent deployment by the end of next month. It may be a little ambitious, but I am doing my best.
On the security concerns and lack of implementation of the CPA, we may again face a very serious issue coming from the ICC [International Criminal Court] decision. I am not aware what kind of decision the ICC will render on 4 March. But what is important is that, whatever the judgment the ICC may be against President Bashir of Sudan, President Bashir should react responsibly. He should commit himself to prior commitments to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. He should ensure the safety and security of the civilian population and humanitarian workers, and more importantly UN personnel, peacekeepers. And he should do all this in accordance with Security Council resolutions. This is what I expect from President Bashir of Sudan. Thank you.
Q: You are going to Rwanda. Are you going to tell President Kagame to hand over General [Laurent] Nkunda to the Congolese authorities?
SG: I think this is a question which I am not in a position to answer. This is a question, an issue, which President Kabila and President Kagame should decide. But I will try to see what course of action he has in his mind. But at this time, please understand that I am not in a position to mention anything on that issue. Thank you very much.
Off-the-Cuff on 27 February 2009