2 August 2007
Press Conference

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


The latest developments in peacekeeping, political reconciliation and conflict prevention in Africa were expected to dominate the Security Council’s agenda this month, Pascal Gayama of Congo, its President for August, said today.

Briefing journalists on the Council’s programme of work, he said that, although the 15-nation body traditionally had a lighter schedule in August, it would still be closely following important events in the region, such as the “pre-negotiation” talks on 3-5 August with Sudanese rebel movements that have not signed the main peace accord on ending the violence in Sudan’s strife-torn western region of Darfur.

Scheduled for Arusha in the United Republic of Tanzania, the talks will be led by Jan Eliasson, United Nations Special Envoy for Darfur, and Salim Ahmed Salim, his counterpart in the African Union.  They have taken on new importance since the Security Council approved on Tuesday the deployment of the “hybrid” United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur.

Mr. Gayama said the Council would hold closed consultations on the outcome of the Arusha talks next Wednesday.  At the end of the month, it expected the Secretary-General’s first report on the modalities for implementing the initial phase of the joint United Nations-African Union operation.

The Council would also be following events in Somalia, where the National Reconciliation Congress was meeting in Mogadishu, he said, adding that the country’s Transitional Federal Institutions needed the international community’s support.  On 13 August, the Council would hold consultations on Somalia as its mandate for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was due to expire on 20 August.  The African Union had requested the United Nations to take over the operation, and the Council would look at ways to handle such a transition smoothly.

He said the Council would be following the upcoming elections in Sierra Leone and would formally express its views after an assessment of the exercise.  The Council would also be following more informally the initial phase of the European Union’s move to send forces to Chad and the Central African Republic, in support of United Nations efforts to protect refugees trapped in the region bordering Darfur.  That might become another “hybrid” operation, with military and police roles shared by the European Union and the United Nations.

Responding to questions, Mr. Gayama reminded reporters that the Council had initially explored the possibility of deploying a United Nations force to police eastern Chad and the north-eastern part of the Central African Republic.  The Government of the Central African Republic had agreed to such a mission in principle, but Chad had been reluctant.  The United Nations had also considered the idea of a multidimensional operation to manage the causes of the conflict along the border between the two countries.

He said the Council did not wish to see the situation worsen and had taken note of the European Union’s decision to deploy a force in the region, with the Chadian Government’s consent.  The United Nations had not been left on the sidelines, and the European Union had been asking the extent to which the Organization could become more formally involved.  The Council looked forward to receiving further information on the modalities under which it could provide such support.

Turning back to the August agenda, he said the ongoing violence and rapidly changing situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo would also be on the Security Council’s “radar”.  Following its 10-day technical rollover of the arms embargo and expert-monitoring panel earlier in the week, it would now be considering “other arrangements” with respect to managing the crisis in that country.  On other Africa issues, the Council was aware that the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire was still pending.  Members would also be following the investigation into the recent assassination attempt against Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.

Responding to questions, he said the Council’s interest in that case had grown out of the Ivorian Government’s request for United Nations help with the investigation.  As for modalities for a more formal arrangement, the Council was awaiting proposals from the Secretariat.  At any rate, an investigation was crucial to ensuring that stability was maintained, that the truth would emerge and that there would be no impunity for the attack.

He said that on 28 August, the Council would hold a high-level thematic debate on conflict prevention and resolution in Africa, where it was hoped Council members and wider United Nations membership could have an open exchange of views on the root causes of conflict and innovative policy coordination and peacekeeping strategies.

On other international questions, he said the Council hoped to renew the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which would expire this month, and that of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), due to expire on 31 August.  On 23 August, the Council would hold its regular open debate on the Middle East.

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For information media • not an official record