Elections in the Democratic Republic of the CongoJendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Foreign Press Center Briefing
July 25, 2006
11:00 A.M. EDT
MODERATOR: Good morning and welcome to the Foreign Press Center. This morning, Ambassador Jendayi Frazer, the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, will be briefing on this Sunday's historic elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ambassador Frazer will open with a few remarks and then be happy to take your questions from here and from our colleagues in New York. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to be here and Jess, thank you for inviting me to speak about the upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo has made impressive progress on the road from war to democracy set forth in the Sun City Accord or the Global and Inclusive Agreement of 2002. From our perspective, in the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department, the completion of this transitional journey is at hand. I believe the overwhelming majority of Congolese people want this accomplishment realized without further delay through successful national elections, the first free elections since 1960. I saw evidence of this popular desire for elections during my visit to Congo this April. To underscore our support for this historic transition, I will lead an official United States mission to observe elections next Sunday, July 30th. And after I finish my statement, I'd be happy to take any questions.
I'm going to the Congo to participate in an historic moment for Africa and the United States relationship with Africa. Free and fair national elections mean a great deal for Congo, a nation that has suffered the loss of almost 4 million people through conflict in the last decade. The upcoming elections mark an essential step in a dramatic transformation of a nation of boundless potential. Just six years ago, Congo was at war with more than five countries involved, several rebel insurgent groups, and multiple militias. As a result of the will of the Congolese people, the mediation of South Africa, support of the United Nations, and the partnership of the United States and other countries, we are on the eve of an historic moment in Congo, its first national open campaign and elections in over 40 years.
The United States remains committed to ensure that this process succeeds. We've provided crucial assistance to the Congolese Independent Electoral Commission in its organization and logistics effort and in helping to support election observer missions from the South African development community and the Carter Center. Responding to the need for confidence-building measures among the nations of the Great Lakes, we have initiated the Tripartheid Plus process over the last two years to address insecurity in the region and to help them deal with what were classified as negative forces under the Lusaka accord.
We continue to promote regional cooperation and increased the stability to our contribution of 27 percent to the budget of the UN mission in Congo Ė Manute - the largest peacekeeping operation in the world. And as far as bilateral assistance, the United States is specifically supporting security sector reform, including training brigade-level staff officers to create a secure environment in which the Congolese people can exercise their right to vote. You must keep in mind that the real work begins the day after the elections. Lasting stability requires an accountable government that can deliver services to its people, fiscal discipline, and the development of a professional security force able to defend Congo's borders and to protect its population.
This is a crucial election for the Congolese people. It is a rare opportunity for the United States to engage in truly transformational diplomacy by imparting our confidence in the people of Congo to choose to transform their society through democratic means. As we move ahead, we are forging a partnership with Africa that advances shared interests and values. As the Secretary of State says, we don't consider Africa to be a target of our policy, but rather, like the rest of the world, very good partners in what we're doing. So we will remain committed and I look forward to participating with the Congo people in this historic event in process.
Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: If you would wait for the microphone and identify your name and organization.
QUESTION: Hi, Ms. Frazer. We were told that you would have been here with the Ambassador of Congo, but I'm not seeing her. Beside that, can you imagine a free and fair election in the Congo without the participation of the monumental press -- freedom fighter with Mr. Tshisekedi is absent in this election. And your input regarding the violence on journalists recently.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Yes. I can easily imagine a free and fair election in the Congo because they carried out an historic referendum vote and 26 million of the 28 million eligible voters have registered to vote. And so the fact that Mr. Tshisekedi chose not to participate in this election should not become a barrier to the will of those 26 million Congolese who are signed up and ready to vote.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: I think that in an election period, it's going to be very important for everybody to exercise restraint. And clearly, the security forces and others should allow for that freedom of transparency. And so protecting the right of the media to have access to polling stations, to have access to the public to talk to them is a keystone of a democratic, transparent and free and fair election. And so we would call on, and I certainly hope when I go there, to be able to make clear that we expect the press to be given access and to be protected.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: I'm not sure where the Ambassador is. I didn't know she was going to be with me here. (Laughter.) I'm not sure.
QUESTION: Yes, hi. Thank you, Secretary Frazer. Nice to see you. This is James Butty from Voice of America. I'd like to capitalize on the question that my colleague just asked. Thirty three of the presidential -- some of the 33 presidential candidates including just yesterday the Catholic Church, the powerful Catholic Church, have said that the process should be at least postponed because there's a possibility of lack of transparency, that it may not be free and fair. I mean, I wonder, does the United States believe that the elections, as they are coming up, you know, on Sunday can be free and fair?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Yes. We do believe that the elections, as they're coming up, can be free and fair. Let's remember that this is Congo's first election in 40 years, so you will expect that there are going to be major difficulties. Congo is a nation the size of Western Europe that has only 300 miles (of roads). And so absolute logistical -- there's going to be tremendous logistical challenges in this election, but we do expect that it'll be free and fair.
The Independent Electoral Commission is opening 50,000 polling stations nationwide and employing 300,000 poll workers. So let's give the people of Congo a chance. The 33 political party -- presidential candidates, as you mentioned, 19 of them, at one point, said that the elections should be delayed. Of those 19, some of them are actually still contesting the election. And so you can delay forever, expecting a perfect election process, but even in the most developed democracies, it's rare that you have a perfect election process. So 26 million Congolese have gone out, registered, they want to vote. Let's get on with it.
QUESTION: Yeah. Jim Fisher-Thompson, Washington File. Two questions; first of all, you're leading an observer delegation to this election. Is that a precedent? I don't recall any former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa doing that. Is this -- do you know, is this is a first thing?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Well, it's certainly a first for Congo -- (Laughter) -- because it's not had an election since, you know, for 40 years. But I led a presidential delegation to observe the elections in Liberia and my presence going to observe this election shows the importance of the Congo and America's commitment to a democratic consolidation and an end of the war process. And so we're not just trying to go from war to peace, but go from war to democracy.
QUESTION: Second question. You mentioned regional efforts and approach, something you've emphasized before, you know, as our policy toward Africa. I understand South Africa printed up the ballots for the election and --
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: That's right.
QUESTION: -- contributed airlift to fly the ballots there.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Yes.
QUESTION: And I understand Angola is contributing some money and possible airlift. Are there other African countries doing this and what is your attitude toward this African involvement?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Well, I think it's extremely important, because Africa has been in the lead of bringing to an end the war in the Congo and supporting this electoral process. And as you said, the South Africans printed the ballots, which weighed over 1,800 tons and required 75 roundtrip flights between Congo and South Africa to deliver those ballots on time. So it was a huge effort on the part of the South Africans. Certainly, the United States is also going to support the Southern African Development Community's election observers. And so they will also play a critical role.
Many Africans are part of the MONUC peacekeeping operation, so they are playing an important role. They have been playing it and will continue through this election process. And so the role of Africa in helping the Congolese people realize a peaceful future is essential.
MODERATOR: Yes, sir.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Laurence Freeman from Executive -- yeah, okay -- from Executive Intelligence Review. Just to go beyond just to go beyond the election per se, for this election and future elections, it seems that you would need a quality of life improvement of the citizens to debate and discuss ideas of national concern for the policy of their country. And the situation in Congo is, at least a thousand people die per day for lack of healthcare, food and necessities.
Is the United States or other western countries going to lead a massive aid effort? Iím talking the order of tens, if not hundreds of millions or more money for long-term credit for infrastructure of water, roads, education? It seems to me if we donít make that investment, whatís going to happen in this election and future elections is going to be undermined.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Yeah, thank you very much for that. The United States has been playing a major role and we certainly would expect to continue to play a major role in supporting the Congolese people; healthcare, as I said, security reform, economic growth and development. We will work with countries or institutions like the World Bank, in particular, on trying to help build the infrastructure in the Congo. We think that the World Bank has a major role to play in that regard. And so yes, we will continue to assist the people of Congo in transforming their lives.
I can say, as I said, having gone there in April, that theyíre well down the road. Itís a huge country, tremendous resources, lots and lots and lots of challenges. But when I was there in April, I was sitting in Goma and Kisangani and other places where just a few years ago, you couldnít go. You really couldnít go because of the war that was taking place. We still have problems with militias. Weíve got to disarm them. We need Manute to aggressively pursue them. Weíve had the LRA now taking up -- you know, taking up residence in Garamba Park. And so this is where trying to build a Congolese army that actually can protect the sovereignty of the country, as well as protect the people of Congo, is going to be extremely important and so, investing in health, investing in infrastructure, economic growth, but also investing in security transformation.
MODERATOR: Sure, a follow-up.
QUESTION: Do you have anything concrete, like how much money is going to be lent to them in terms of credit, what time scale, what is being built? I mean, you said weíre generally helping, but itís a massive, masssive effort. I was wondering if you have any concretes?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Well, itís difficult for me to have concretes at this point because the United States is -- you know, maybe you donít know -- the State Department is going through a major transformation of its own building and of our own foreign assistance process led by Ambassador Randall Tobias. And so I am going to do a senior review to the Secretary sometime in August. But those numbers and the level of our assistance to Congo is right now under discussion in a major reordering of assistance. And all I can say is that Congo is a very, very high priority for us.
We have an inter-agency approved Africa strategy in which Congo is one of the top five or six countries. And that would suggest that there is going to be an increase in resources, but I donít want to prejudge that until the process -- the foreign assistance transformation process is completed.
MODERATOR: Yes, Talha.
QUESTION: Talha Gibriel. Okay? Talha Gibriel with Asharq Al Awsat. Ambassador, what exactly the message the USA want to send to the Africans by encouraging financing to some extent and observing this election? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: I think that we want to send the message that the Congolese people are deciding for themselves their future by the vote that they take on election day next Sunday and that, in fact, weíre trying in our effort collectively -- Iím saying the African leadership in the mediation process, the tremendous investment that South Africa has made over the years in bringing these parties together, the support of the African Union and the United Nations and the international partners together, that weíre helping the Congolese people move from war to democratic consolidation. Itís not post-conflict reconstruction alone. We have to move there, but we have to go beyond that to a democratic consolidation.
And so the people really have the say over their future, over their destiny by the exercise of the vote. And so we think itís a tremendous challenge. But if it can happen in Congo, it could happen in any other country in Africa, because the logistical challenges are enormous in the Congo. But the peopleís will is extremely strong by the fact that 26 million out of the 28 million eligible voters have actually registered to vote.
MODERATOR: We have a question from New York.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. The name is Ola Ulu Akonde. I'm the bureau chief of The Guardian. Thank you, Ambassador Frazer. Since youíre talking about lasting stability in Africa, thereís another election coming up next year, which I guess is -- should be of importance to the United States. This is the election in Nigeria. And going now to the elections, there are now concerns about the freedom of the press. Currently, there are two journalists in Nigeria that are going through a sedition trial. There are very serious issues of security (inaudible), there's a big time internal fighting between the President and Vice President. Is the U.S. concerned about these issues that are leading up to the election next year?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Well, the United States is concerned about Nigeria as a whole. We consider Nigeria and its strategic partner to the United States in terms of its role and influence throughout Africa and globally. And so certainly, we are concerned about the transition process in Nigeria. We have to work very closely with all of the political parties, as we did in the previous elections. Certainly, press freedom is a cornerstone of a democratic transformation of a fair and free election. And so weíre going to work with the Nigerian people to try to help them get through this next election process. We expect them to get through as is the case -- the Ambassador is here now. I just saw you. Hello, Ambassador. (Laughter.)
Yes, we expect them to get through with some bumps, bits and starts, but itís a young democracy. Itís a country that's come out of many, many more years of military rule than civilian rule. Our -- especially, what we're trying to focus the United States' value added in these election processes is strengthen the independent electoral commissions so that they can conduct a free and fair election, so that they can train election observers, so that they can have a fair ballot process. And so that's probably where we will focus, as well as engaging all of the political parties to have some type of a code of conduct, some kind of set of principles by which they will conduct themselves. But clearly, a country as large and as populous as Nigeria is going to have some problems in its process, but we want to work with them to try to make it the best process as possible.
QUESTION: Secretary Frazer, I know we are talking about elections, but there are also some other hot places around Africa. So if you don't mind, I'd like to ask a question about Somalia and Ethiopia. The Union of Islamic Courts now apparently controls much of Somalia. There were reports yesterday that this transitional government in Baidoa would like to talk with the Islamic.
So my question is, is the U.S. prepared to talk to the Islamic Courts Union? And what's the U.S. view on the reported Ethiopian incursion into Somalia?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Well, the United States is -- we've consistently said and we've said ourselves, as part of the International Somalia Contact Group, that the key point is for the Somali people to talk to each other. That's more important than any particular element talking to the United States. And we've especially encouraged the dialogue amongst Islamic Courts and the Transitional Federal Government that was taking place in Khartoum. We thought that the seven principles that came out of the June 22nd meeting were very solid principles consistent with the Transitional Federal Charter.
It's been unfortunate that those talks did not take place, as they were scheduled to do so, on July 22nd and particularly, we feel that the move of the -- some elements of the Islamic Courts towards Baidoa derailed those talks. We think that it was unfortunate that the Transitional Federal Government didn't show up for the talks as scheduled on the 15th, but then when they decided to go on the 22nd, that movement towards Baidoa, which was, in fact, a violation of the seven principles, a cessation of hostilities, helped to derail those talks.
Now all of the talk about holy wars, et cetera is actually moving us away from that process of broad-based inclusive dialogue that's necessary for the Somali people to move forward. We had called, as an International Somali Contact Group, for the Transitional Federal Government to go to Khartoum, which they did. We not only called for the dialogue between the two sides as such, but also to include women's groups, civil society, business community and clan elders, so that they can find the way forward through dialogue. All of this holy war talk is, we think, undermining the process and detracts from the central issue, which is a dialogue consistent with the charter of the Transitional Federal Institutions, as agreed to through a two-year reconciliation process.
So as far as Ethiopia's alleged incursions into Somalia, clearly, we have asked the Ethiopians for restraint and we've asked for that consistently. We've all asked for all external parties to be constrained and allow the Somali people to have a chance to decide their future. This includes the Eritreans, who are also backing the Islamic Courts. We think that it's a false debate about external intervention because there is external parties involved on all sides, so there is no -- you know, it's not Ethiopia as a foreign invader; well, what about Eritrea and OLF fighters who are fighting with the Islamic Courts? They are also relying on external supporters, external arms and funding.
This is a problem. We need to get them refocused on a dialogue internally, rather than scapegoating outside parties to call for a holy war against each other.
QUESTION: I have a follow-up.
MODERATOR: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: Secretary Frazer, I know you said that United States would like for the Somalis to talk to each other. Is the United States willing to talk to the Islamic Courts?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: We're not unwilling, but we don't think that that's the priority at this point. The priority is for them to talk to each other. The Islamic Courts don't have a dialogue with the United States; they're not sovereign. They're not the sovereign governing -- they're not the existing sovereign Government of Somalia. That's a Transitional Federal Government which they themselves recognized on June 22nd. So having a dialogue with us; with whom? Who would we have a dialogue with, really? I mean, what is the legitimacy of the Islamic Courts? You know, the legitimate government of the Transitional Federal Government, that doesn't rule out us having conversations with any particular element of the Islamic Courts. I'm saying that that's not the issue at this point. The issue is for them to have a dialogue amongst themselves and decide how to go forward, but there's no policy decision or not -- decision to or not to talk to them. It's more where should they be focusing, it's not on us. It's on themselves.
QUESTION: Yeah, back to DRC, Ambassador. You mentioned that the United States wants to remain a partner with DRC in development even after the elections. Bill Swing, who heads up MONUC, former Ambassador to -- Swing has said that he doesn't like to talk about an exit strategy. MONUC's mandate, I believe, is to the end of September, September 30. He said he would envision MONUC maybe even having to stay there longer to help -- you know, in the post-election phase.
Would the United States countenance MONUC's mandate being extended?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: I'm sure that we will look at the situation at the time, but it would be a false hope to expect MONUC to be able to leave at the end of its mandate, so it would very likely be extended. That would be my expectation. So what the United States would do is do whatever is necessary to make sure that there's a stable consolidation of democracy in the Congo. And MONUC's presence is essential for that to occur, so we would not look at any premature ending of the MONUC operation.
MODERATOR: Adam with DRC? Yeah, okay.
QUESTION: Secretary, since the Ambassador here, I would like to have her input on the fact that there are still some Congolese who are still having doubt that the president is not a true Congolese. And what do they do to correct that fact? And I also would like to have your input on the forthcoming election in Mali, which is my country.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: If the Ambassador is willing, I'm certainly willing to share any platform with the Ambassador. Would you like to come up?
AMBASSADOR MITIFU: Thank you, Ambassador Frazer. Let me first, before I react to the question, to commend you for your effort and also your commitment towards Congo. You have been in this process ever since you were at the EN -- at the National Security Council and we've worked very closely together. You've worked with us to move the process forward and here you are again, going to Congo to observe the very first elections in 45 years.
To answer the question, is the president Congolese; yes, the president is 100 percent Congolese. I think during a campaign process, you always have demagogues, you have people who don't have a plan to defend, they don't have a program to defend, and they can use whatever they want to use in order to attack the opponent. Yes, the president is Congolese; we know his father and we know his mother.
MODERATOR: And I think there was a question about Mali.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Thank you, Ambassador Mitifu. The question on Mali and its upcoming elections, we would expect them to be conducted in a free and fair fashion, as the previous one was. It was very exciting campaigning the last time around. As I said, the United States considers democratic elections as critical to consolidation of peace and stability across Africa as a legitimizing event and process for any country. And Mali has done well; we don't expect any problems there.
We will continue to try to build the institutional capability of government and countries to conduct those elections through their independent electoral commissions. Over the next two years, if we can have solid institutions in place to conduct elections, I think we will have contributed to that process of consolidation of democracy.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: I haven't traveled to Mali since I've been Assistant Secretary. I've been -- it's less than a year that I've been back, but I certainly have traveled to Mali many times since -- before becoming Assistant Secretary and I certainly would expect to go to Mali, no doubt about it. It's a beautiful country.
MODERATOR: And a question from New York again.
QUESTION: Yes, talking about elections, there are quite a number of countries in Africa right now where there are speculations of holding interim governments instead of elections. Now, in case a government comes up with the idea of an interim government instead of holding an election, what will be the attitude of the United States, like has been speculated right now in Nigeria?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Well, certainly, we would look at the situation at hand. I mean, that's a hypothetical and there are -- you know, 54 countries in Africa. And so, as a hypothetical is -- you know, depends on the circumstances. We would expect a national election in Nigeria. They've had one before and they should be fully capable of having one next year. And so I don't -- I wouldn't anticipate that we would look at an interim government.
Typically, you look at these situations when a country is coming out of war, when there's some type of transitional process as the institutions are established. And just to go back to Somalia, that's the end objective in our policy on Somalia, which is -- right now, we have a transitional government which is expected to go to elections in 2009. And we need to focus on getting them to those elections so that they can legitimacy in the process. And so it's not about supporting a TFG or the Islamic Courts; it's about supporting the Somali society so that it can move towards elections and have a legitimate government in place. And so it all depends on the circumstances of the particular country that is involved.
MODERATOR: We have time for two more.
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Endale from EC Ethiopian TV. I have two different questions from the same -- with -- one with Ethiopia. As you know, there was an election took place on Ethiopian previously. I know you traveled to Ethiopia and have met with the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi regarding the election dispute and I was wondering if you have any follow-up on that.
The second one is also between Ethiopia and Somalia. I know you answered it earlier, but did you have any direct conversation with Ethiopian authority regarding the situation taking place? The Somalians just demonstrated yesterday. Also, they were trying to -- you know, push on like, a holy war on Ethiopia. So do you think this will be easier or are you discussing directly with the Ethiopian Government at the moment?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Yes, yes, to both questions. When I was in Ethiopia -- I've traveled there now twice; one, to deal with the Ethiopia-Eritrea border issue and then recently to consult with regional countries Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda on Somalia. And in both instance, I had an opportunity to talk to the prime minister as well as members of the opposition, members of parliament.
So we've had very constructive, I think, discussions on the internal issues in Ethiopia in terms of the aftermath of its election and trying to move towards establishing a parliament and parliamentary rules and when the -- in which the opposition has a place -- you know, and can exercise voice on behalf of its constituencies and where -- you know, we're pushing the prime minister to bring to trial very quickly those who are in jail, who are detained, or to release them. And we've had conversations with the prime minister while I was there in June as well as subsequently on Somalia.
The call for a holy war against Somalia, again, I think is just whipping up emotions of the public and detracting them from what is essential, which is dialogue across all segments of Somali society: the clan leaders, the business community, the women's groups, the civil society groups, the Transitional Federal Authorities, and the Islamic Courts. The focus should be on the Transitional Federal Charter as the constitutional basis for organizing this transition to elections in 2009.
I think too often, people think of Somalia as a failed state that will always be a failed state and they forget that in fact, as a result of a two-year process supported by EGAD and the United Nations, the people of Somalia came together and put down a charter for how they should be governed over the next few years. And the end state is for us to get to 2009. Well, we surely can't get there if our political engagement is demonstrations and calls for a holy war. That's not going to move us on this political path to a legitimate elected government. That's the United States' focus. It's not on claims of external -- you know, intervention because as I said, in a stateless society, a stateless country like Somalia, all sides have pulled on external supporters. You know -- we know that Eritrea has been arming people. We know that there are foreign fighters fighting right alongside the Islamic Courts, so they don't have the high ground.
The Transitional Federal Government is the existing, legitimate institutions as recognized on June 22nd. The Federal -- Transitional Federal Government also has to recognize the reality of the Islamic Courts and what they have accomplished in Mogadishu. But there has to be a cessation of hostility on both sides and providing space for a dialogue that includes all Somali stakeholders.
MODERATOR: Yes, James. Last one.
QUESTION: Secretary Frazer, talking about elections, the election in Liberia, I'm sure you agree, was one of the success stories and Madame President Sirleaf will be leading the country to the first independent celebration tomorrow after the war. But she still needs help. There was a donors conference just last week. I was wondering what the United States import into there. How much did the United States give her country between -- to the donor conference? And if I may add, what is the -- would you describe relations between the United States and the African Union as an institution? And how true is it that the United States may be sending an ambassador to the African Union?
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Yeah, I'll start with the last question. We are sending an ambassador to the African Union and it represents the support that the United States is providing to the African Union and the importance that we see the African Union playing across Africa. The African Union is a young organization, but it's already been carrying a huge load and doing it quite well. And we have named -- the president has named Dr. Cindy Courville, who is the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council as his nominee to be our first ambassador to the African Union. And we're very proud, we're very proud that the United States is the first non-African country to seek accreditation for an ambassador at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.
We will -- the second question --
QUESTION: Is Liberia --
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Liberia, yeah, we're very -- we're very proud of Liberia and extremely happy with the election. And it is, in fact, the model of a country coming out of war and consolidating democracy and allowing the people to express themselves. If you look at our budget -- as I said before, our budget levels are shifting around, but if you look at our -- the U.S. budget, Sudan is off the charts. We provide about 1.3 billion annually to Sudan, about 700 million or so into South Sudan and 600 to 700 million to Darfur. So that's literally -- when you do a graph, it's off the chart.
The next highest country that we provide assistance to is Liberia. And that's about 40 million or so annually. We're looking at pulsing that up. And that, I think, is a reflection of our commitment to support and that is excluding the assistance that we provide to UNMIL, you know, the peacekeeping force that's there, that's extremely important to the stability of the country. But our contribution to Liberia is significant, especially when you look at the 48 countries of my portfolio.
MODERATOR: We have one last question here in the front row.
QUESTION: I don't want to let you go before you say a few things about Cote d'Ivoire. We know that there are problems and yesterday for example the city of Divo was -- in that city -- and there are trouble also in the corridor of Agbengourou, (inaudible) and all of that by the (inaudible), as you know.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Yes. You know, I think that that's right and I -- you know, one of the things that troubles me the most is as I'm working so hard on Somalia, as they're in the streets demonstrating for holy war, I'm not spending my time in Cote d'Ivoire where there's a real chance for peace and a real chance to move that process forward. We have a prime minister and a President that have committed themselves to a peaceful process. You know, we have ECOWAS, the regional power, Nigeria, South Africa, Congo-Bazza, Sassou Nguesso, who's very much engaged. And you can really see -- you really can see the opportunity for ending a war for the second-largest economy in West Africa. And I would love to be doing a lot more to assist the people of Cote d'Ivoire and I do plan to do more. I'm afraid that the October, you know, date for elections is slipping and that's why I'm just saying in Somalia, don't waste our time, you know, because there are many places in Africa that are ready and that need assistance and support and we are spending a lot of effort as an international community and as the United States trying to work and help the Somali people to realize a future that they set out for themselves and their charter. But that's opportunity costs for other countries that I think are ready.
MODERATOR: And one last question there.
QUESTION: Ambassador, now that you've spoken about the amount of money you give to Sudan, I was in a meeting yesterday where the Vice President of Sudan, Vice President Kiir expressed concern that the non-implementation of the accords, which they have signed with the government of SPLM and the accord that was signed recently between this other armed forces with SPLM on these accords are not being implemented and he was worried because that can reignite war and it might spill over to his (inaudible) in Southern Sudan. Are you concerned about that and what are you doing? And secondly, if you can perhaps shed us light between the meeting with President Bush and Mr. Minnawi.
AMBASSADOR FRAZER: Yes, thank you. I think that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is being implemented. It's not being implemented as quickly as all of us would like and it's not being implemented across all areas of the document. And I think that the President or the Government of Southern Sudan and the first Vice President of the Government of National Unity Salva Kiir is particularly concerned about the Abeyah Commission. And I think that we have tried to push for the commissioners to come back and explain their decision to both the National Congress Party and the SPLM and to push them towards some type of dialogue to resolve the impasse on Abeyah. I think that that's critically important. I think he's concerned about the establishment of the North-South boundary, the demarcation of that boundary as it effects the distribution or allocation of oil resources. This is also critically important.
We have the Assessment and Evaluation Commission of which the United States is a member and the SPLM is a member as well of that Assessment and Evaluation Commission, which has oversight to ensure that the CPA is implemented. They need to exercise voice, the SPLM themselves, within the AEC to try to push for that implementation. They have a role to play. They're not victims in this process. He is the first vice president of the government. He's the second highest-ranking official and so SPLM organizing themselves. We have committed to assist the process of implementation certainly. And as I say, we are the largest bilateral donor, by far. And most of our assistance going to Sudan continues to go to southern Sudan. So we are committed.
The process is going to be a long one. It's going to be a very, very long one and there are going to be areas where there's progress and where there's some backsliding, where there's some stalemates until we can get a dialogue to resolve whatever the particular is. But the Abeyah Commission and the North-South boundary demarcation are the current ones on the agenda that I think that the first vice President is especially concerned about.
And on the Minni Minnawi meeting, as you know, President Bush met with President Salva Kiir, President of the Government of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir last week. He's now going to meet with Minni Minnawi, one of the Sudan Liberation Army leaders and the only signatory with the Government of Sudan or the Government of National Unity to the Darfur Peace Agreement. We think it's extremely important. And what I would expect to occur in that meeting, obviously Minni Minnawi will tell the President what concerns he has about the assistance for the international community to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement but most importantly is security.
And there's a few elements on the security front. One is we need to get the AMIS force supported and transitioned to a United Nations operation. And the African Union Peace and Security Council has asked repeatedly in January, in March and again in June in Banjul for that transition to occur on October 1st. It needs to occur on October 1st. The UN is now saying not until January 2007. That's a disaster for the AU to wait that long. Really, they're trying to optimize their success, that being the UN, by putting the AU at a most vulnerable position. The transition needs to occur quickly and October 1st really is the date that we're all shooting for or that we continue to shoot for as partners of the African Union.
Secondly, the Sudan-Chad continuing conflict is leading Chad and President Debi to support rebel movements that are non-signatories and they're attacking Minni Minnawi's forces and that's unacceptable. It's absolutely unacceptable for that interstate conflict to be conducted by supporting rebels on each side of the border. So right now Chad is in a position in which it's undermining the Darfur Peace Agreement by supporting the non-signatories militarily and materially. And those forces are then attacking Minni Minnawi. Third, the parties themselves, Minni Minnawi's SLA and the JEM and the National Redemption Movement and Abdelwahid, SLM should agree to the cessation of hostilities, ceasefire agreement.
They signed an agreement in (inaudible). That accord was subsumed under the Darfur Peace Agreement so it continues to be binding on all parties, signatories and non-signatory, because those non-signatories signed in N'Djamena a ceasefire. And so getting those ceasefires commission and a joint commission up and running and getting the non-signatories to abide by that ceasefire, as well as Minni Minnawi's forces to abide by the ceasefire is extremely important. So that's on the security front.
On the political front, obviously you need to get broad support for the Darfur Peace Agreement, particular amongst the Fur community. I was at Abuja, it's a very fair agreement. And quite frankly, Abdelwahid was prepared to sign in Abuja. He got spooked by something. Someone told him there was a virus in the camp. Well, there actually was a virus in a camp on that day, it was after that that someone went and organized IDPs and told them that the agreement was unfair. Particularly, he focused on compensation and the Government put $30 million in as a down payment. They didn't say that was the end. It simply was a down payment. The expectation of that compensation fund would increase. And so I think that the people of Darfur really need to look very carefully at those agitators who were trying to basically keep them in the camp by claiming that the Darfur Peace Agreement isn't a fair deal.
What's important is for all of the communities and particularly the Fur community to get in so that the provisions that are provided for in the Darfur Peace Agreement can be broadly distributed in a representative way and it doesn't go to only one of the signatories. And I am sure that the President will say to Minni Minnawi what Minni Minnawi said to all of us as an international community in Abuja, he said, "It's critically important for my brother, JEM and SLA Abdelwahid to sign this agreement, so that we're not put in a situation where we're fighting each other." And he was absolutely correct and very wise, and he needs to continue to reach out broadly so that he's not put in a situation where he's fighting other Darfurians.
MODERATOR: Thank you, very much.