Briefing on Deputy Secretary Zoellick's Upcoming Travel to Sudan and KenyaJendayi E. Frazer, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
November 4, 2005
(4:10 p.m. EDT)
MR. MILLS: Hello everyone. I'd like to introduce [Assistant] Secretary of African Affairs Jendayi E. Frazer. Maybe we can just go around the room and just introduce yourself briefly and if you're going on the trip, that'll help her. We're going to do this on the record and she might make a few opening remarks and we'll go to some Q&A.
So on a political front, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has already delivered, in many ways, tangible results. There are more to be delivered. On an economic front, absolutely it's the case that we need to support the development of the South. I'm not at all convinced that that is going to take many, many years. Frankly, getting basic services to the Southerners should be something that we can do on a more rapid scale, particularly as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is implemented. And I would note in this instance, the need to establish the boundary commission. A commission's been established, but to actually get to the work so that it would help to define what the revenue-sharing, wealth-sharing, percentages actually are, because that money will go to the Southerners. So they're not simply relying on donor assistance, but actually the resources from the oil, for the first time in over 20-some years, will actually be received by the South and by the Southern Government, which then can be used to provide those tangible results that you're talking about.
So the Southerners are not poor. This peace agreement is delivering wealth to them. And so I think that we need to be sure, working with them that there are mechanisms for tracking that wealth so that there's not a situation of corruption in this new Government of Southern Sudan. But I think that they will have the resources and they certainly do have the backing of the international community to try to deliver more rapidly on material benefits of the peace agreement.
QUESTION: Not to take anything away from North-South progress, but in the last, I guess month to six weeks, Darfur is heating up again and there's more -- there's an increasing violence and it just seems like -- I mean, even a couple of months ago when the Deputy Secretary briefed us, he said, well, a lot of the violence is down because they've killed so many people, you know, there aren't so many people to attack. I mean, this is not going well. And it doesn't seem like -- to me it doesn't seem like the pressure you're exerting on the Sudanese Government is doing any good because they are not reining in the Janjaweed.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Well, not all the violence can be put at the feet of the government, although it has some major responsibility for security in the area. But what we're finding is that the violence at least has three sources: one are just banditry and lawlessness, which obviously a peace agreement will help to try to get greater security and rule of law, etc. Secondly, there's been factionalism amongst the SLM. We associate that with actually trying to position themselves at the negotiating table. And this is not an uncommon scenario at the end of a war, that there could be factionalism amongst the rebel forces and they try to exert themselves on the battlefield to increase, to improve their position at the negotiating table.
So some of it is associated with actually the SLM and the JEM. And indeed some of it is associated with the Janjaweed and the government. And one of the things that Vice President Kiir has said is that the government miscalculated. Because once you unleash the militias it's harder to control them and that's a huge problem. And so the Deputy Secretary absolutely will go to Khartoum and continue to put pressure on the government to stop any support that it is providing to the Janjaweed and indeed to work, as I said, as a unified negotiating team with the SPLM, which obviously has more credibility with the rebels as well as expertise that can help create a credible negotiating position with the National Congress Party. The National Congress Party's answer can't be put down your weapons, go into containment and therefore, you know, and then hope for a peaceful settlement or, you know, the wealth-sharing and power-sharing. The SPLM can help them to put down credible carrots to help bring the rebels into this Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
And so yes, there has been a spike in violence over the last month. It's not the same as the type of systematic, organized violence that we saw in the past. But there is definitely a spike related to three sources, as I said, and I think that we have an answer to all three of those sources.
QUESTION: When you say "once you unleash the militia it's hard to control them," are you suggesting that the government of Khartoum is not involved in what's going on?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: No, I said that the government of Khartoum continues. I mean, we have evidence, or at the last the African Union's report clearly states that they saw helicopters around where Janjaweed were attacking. So I think that there is absolutely still some involvement of the government, whether that's local commanders or the National Congress Party in Khartoum. But the government ultimately is responsible for the security situation in Darfur but what the Vice President Salva Kiir has said is that when you unleash these militias you lose control, and I think what he is stating is that the government is not fully in control of the Janjaweed's action. That's not to say that there are not instances in which clearly the government may be supporting that action.
QUESTION: Didn't they tell the Deputy Secretary to his face that there was no longer any support? And if you're seeing the helicopters, that's blatantly not true.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: There's a lot of things that the Government of Sudan has said that's blatantly not true that we've found over the last four or five years of trying to negotiate and help them with a peace agreement.
QUESTION: Okay. So since he was there last and they told him we have cut off all support, you have seen documented cases of government-supplied helicopters.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: My reference is that the AU forces have put in their report that there's documented cases where the helicopters were in the vicinity of where the Janjaweed attacked. So that's an AU report and that's --
QUESTION: Well, they're the ones on the ground. That's who we're looking at now for our information.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: So that's what I'm basing it on. You know, whether you can relate the vicinity -- they could come in and say they're looking, you know. I mean, whether you can relate that they're over-flying and providing cover, that's another level of evidence of government support of the Janjaweed. I don't know that the AU report made that linkage, but given past behavior, one wouldn't rule it out; it would seem very probable that that's the case. But you know, that's -- what I'm saying is based on an AU report.
QUESTION: Can you talk to us just a little bit about the Abuja process and, on that front, how realistic it still is to hope for a peace still by the end of the year and then what the next steps would be for the United States if there isn't one, and perhaps what the next step would be if there is?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Well, the United States has been very much backing the Abuja process and the mediation of Salim Salim. We have two representatives there, at least two. We have the Ambassador Yates as a senior representative, as an observer, who has been at the Abuja talks, as well as we've put technical expertise behind the mediation. So we've been very much involved.
Again, as I said, part of the problem with the Abuja peace process becoming a success is SLM unity and so that's why the Deputy Secretary's mission to Nairobi is so critical. And what we've heard from most of the sides is that what the Deputy Secretary is going to provide is a neutral forum, a neutral space to try to bring the SLM together.
I think you know that there was recently an SLM conference in Darfur in which the commanders from the reporting that we've seen have selected Minni Minnawi as their head. So that's the dynamic that will go into Nairobi. But the critical component here is that all sides see the United States as a critical player in trying to bring the SLM together, creating that neutral space for them to have these negotiations, and then to push them. Because our message to them -- getting back to Darfur -- is that you cannot win friends or win advantage at the negotiating table if you're fighting on the battlefield, if you're attacking civilians. That's an unacceptable space. And if you want the United States to support and help you and provide assistance to you in terms of negotiation, then you've got to stop and honor the ceasefire agreement. And that's where the connection is between Nairobi and Darfur.
QUESTION: What is in Nairobi? I mean, I'm not sure what the connection is between Nairobi and Darfur.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: I just said it. The connection between Nairobi and Darfur is that we have seen three sources of violence in Darfur: lawlessness and banditry; SLM-JEM factionalism; and Janjaweed, probably backed by the government, you know, violence. And so part of -- one of our answers to Darfur is to get the SLM together so that the talks, the peace talks, which is the ultimate solution to the violence in Darfur, is that there is a political solution, that that, those political talks can advance when Abuja resumes.
QUESTION: Are they going to be in Nairobi?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: The SLM will be.
QUESTION: All the factions of the SLM agreed to go to Nairobi?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: So far, yes, all have agreed to go to Nairobi.
QUESTION: And they're coming just for this meeting?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: That's right. That's right. And because they all see the United States as critical. You know, we supported the SLM -- the SPLM, and they see us playing a similar type of role in terms of helping them and backing their effort to get basically a piece of the power and a piece of the wealth to end their marginalization.
QUESTION: And when will it be, this meeting in Nairobi?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: It's the first stop of the Deputy Secretary's trip. He starts in Nairobi.
QUESTION: So the end of the year timeline that's been mentioned before, is that still realistic?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Well, we certainly are going to do everything that we can and the Deputy Secretary is doing everything that he can, which is why he's gone there four times. It's the reason why Salva Kiir is here right now. I just came back from a trip from Sudan. Roger Winter, the Deputy Secretary's Special Rep, just came back from a trip from Sudan. The Secretary was just there in July. So we are working intensely to try to make sure that the end of the year is a reality. But this is really in the hands of the parties themselves. The United States can push and prod and, you know, use carrots and sticks, but ultimately it's for the parties. And trying to bring some unity amongst the SLM is essential, but also hammering the government to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to give the rebels the confidence is essential. That's where the two parts are interrelated.
QUESTION: And what kind of carrots or sticks do you have to deal with the government?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Well, the carrot that we have with the government, or the stick that we have with the government, is almost the same, which is the government wants to be recognized internationally. That's always been the case, even in 2001 where President Bush first went to Secretary Rice -- or then, his National Security Advisor -- and said, "I want to do something about Sudan." What we had, the leverage we had, was the United States was the main country that was able to put pressure and keep the international community engaged on Sudan so that the government would not be allowed out of the sanctions that they have until they addressed the North-South, you know -- their aggression against the South because they were, you know, bombing hospitals and Red Cross centers and it was just outrageous, you know, a 22 year war, over two million people dead.
QUESTION: And so the sanctions will be discussed in this trip?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Well, the Government of Sudan never, never misses an opportunity to discuss sanctions so I'm sure that they will raise them.
QUESTION: But Salva Kiir discussed it also last week.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Yeah, well, sure. I mean, he's part of the government of national unity as well. But I think that, you know, you'd have to talk to Salva Kiir about what Salva Kiir's position is on sanctions.
QUESTION: Over the last two decades, Khartoum's desire to get this oil going in the South, to get U.S. oil companies pumping oil in the South, have been blamed for a lot of violence, in fact, you know, there's been a lot written about that. Is there a long line of U.S. companies that are trying to get back in there and that are sort of waiting on the sidelines or somehow, you know, trying to help this process so that that business can start again? That's my first question, I have another on the ICC.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: I haven't seen that. You know, before I came to the State Department as Assistant Secretary for Africa, I was Ambassador to South Africa but that's not relevant to your question, but I was before that, I was President Bush's Special Assistant at the NSC and I would get a lot of people coming into my office to talk to me. I never had an oil company -- or an American oil company -- come to me and say they wanted to get back into Sudan. So I haven't -- and since I've been Assistant Secretary, no oil company has come to me. They've talked to me about Angola. They've talked to me about Nigeria. But none have ever approached me about Sudan. So I haven't seen any evidence of that. I haven't looked for the evidence but just in terms of people coming to talk to me, it's never been raised.
QUESTION: And the other question is like to what extent is the U.S. giving support to the process that might actually end in prosecuting war criminals in the ICC? I mean, I know we've said that, you know, this can happen but what -- how much support?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: They haven't asked us. They haven't asked us for support. What the Deputy Secretary has said is that we obviously want people to held accountable for -- and if asked, we would look at ways in which we could assist to make sure that people were held accountable. But as far as I know, we haven't had any concrete requests from the ICC at this point.
QUESTION: So as far as you know, their investigations are continuing but the U.S. has nothing to do with it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Well, as far as I know, their investigations are continuing and they haven't asked the U.S. to -- they haven't sought our assistance.
MR. MILLS: Any other questions?
QUESTION: Do you have some time for more questions?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Yeah, sure. I mean, it's up Rich, really.
MR. MILLS: You've got the time, I just didn't see anybody jump into some...
QUESTION: I'm still on the Abuja process, I'm sorry, but even if there is a peace deal, obviously that's not going to solve all the problems in Darfur.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Right.
QUESTION: What would be the next steps? And what are we going to do if it doesn't -- if the talks fall apart?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Well, we're going to keep engaging and pushing, you know, just as we did with the North-South, this was an intensive process -- an intensive process -- and we just stuck with it because we are committed to peace in Sudan. So we'll stick with this. The President is very clear about this that, you know, a unified, peaceful Sudan is in America's interest. So we'll keep pushing and pushing and pushing on the peace talks.
The first part of your question was --
QUESTION: You know, if there is peace?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Yeah --
QUESTION: And what would we do to actually -- because you're saying it's also banditry and there are other --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Oh, yeah, sure -- well, there's -- you know, in the immediate term, we also need to support the AU and the AMIS peacekeeping force there. And one of the things that the Deputy Secretary has been pushing on -- he's had several phone calls with Taha even this past week -- is to get the Canadian armored personnel carriers there to try to improve the mobility of the AU so that they can carry out patrols. And so we have to keep -- we've supported, you know, we've built 32 base camps. You know, we've provided significant -- about $160 million worth of -- $160 million to support other AMIS peacekeeping mission. You know, we airlifted the Rwandans in there. And so we have to keep building that capability of the African Union force to try to create an environment of peace while we work for the ultimate solution, which is a political settlement.
QUESTION: Do you think there are enough troops right now?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: I think that there's about 6,700 African Union troops and it's my understanding that there was a sort of a resolution or that there needs to be about 10,000 to 12,000 troops in Darfur. You know, but the numbers -- ultimately, what we need is a political solution and you know, the -- certainly there may be a need to increase the troop presence. You know, but as a person who works on Africa, I can tell you it's going to be very difficult for the AU to increase their troop presence there because there's just so many African forces that can go around. So what we need to do is with the ones that are there make them more effective and getting those APCs there which, you know, we've been hammering on Bashir and the government to allow the APCs to come in.
QUESTION: What have they said -- why did they say they won't release them?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Well, what they've said to me was -- I raised this with Bashir of course while I was there and what he said was, they're scared that the APCs will be captured from the AU forces by the rebels. That's their excuse. But, you know, I think that's not --
QUESTION: What do you think it really is?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: I think that they don't want the APCs in. I mean, I think, obviously, that they're trying to stall the African Union getting those armored personnel carriers, which will increase their mobility, increase their observation --
QUESTION: They don't want the AU to be more effective?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: That might be the case. That certainly is what one would read from their blocking the APCs and if that's not the case you would think that they would allow them to come in. But, you know, one can be led to that conclusion by, you know, continuing to essentially stonewall the international community on this issue.
MR. MILLS: Any other questions?
QUESTION: Can we speak about Liberia?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: It's up to Rich.
MR. MILLS: It's up to you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Sure. One question on Liberia because this is really a backgrounder for a Sudan trip.
QUESTION: Okay. But, since we have a little time.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Yes, just one question.
QUESTION: About the elections in Liberia.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Yes.
QUESTION: Next week, next Tuesday.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Yes.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the level of democracy so far in the --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Well, so far, yes. The election that took place on October 11th was absolutely one of the most inspiring events I've ever been to in my life, I must say. You know, watching the Liberian people cast their votes, stand out there patiently, cast their vote into the very evening -- late, late into the night, 10:30 at night, watching them count each vote separately, holding it up to the monitors to see -- I mean, domestic monitors as well as international monitors. It was absolutely inspiring, listening to the radio chatter after the election where people were saying, "If my candidate doesn't win, that's okay because I really voted for peace. We'll accept the -- you know, whoever is elected." I mean, I found it absolutely -- it reminded me of what democracy really is.
QUESTION: And the second --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: And the second round, so far so good. The Independent Electoral Commission has done a wonderful -- a wonderful job preparing these elections. Both parties have been campaigning vigorously, debating vigorously and we'll have to see what the vote is. You know, it'll be -- hopefully, it'll be up to the Liberian people.
The difference between this election and the last is when you have 22 candidates, you're not so squarely in opposition. Now you have two. And so the potential for a conflict and for partisans to, you know, for partisans to get emotionally involved and perhaps some violence -- it's certainly there but I have to say that Alan Doss the SRSG and force commander for the UN, they've done a wonderful job. They have quick reaction teams.
My expectation is that the elections will be as peaceful as the last round and I certainly hope that the candidates will respect the results. And I know that the region is having consultations with both candidates -- George Weah and Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson -- to say to both of them, accept the results. So I -- basically, what I'm saying is I have confidence that this will go well, based on what happened in the past, based on the institutions that are there and based on the conduct of the candidates themselves so far.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MILLS: Great. Thank you all.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: Thank you.