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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2005 > November
Press Statement
Office of the Spokesman
Nairobi, Kenya
November 8, 2005


Press Briefing by Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick Aboard Aircraft En Route Nairobi, Kenya

QUESTION: What will be your key message during your trip?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: (Inaudible) The key goal is to develop a clear message to all the parties. The National Congress Party, which is the ruling party in Khartoum, the SPLM, which is now a part of the Government of National Unity, the rebel groups in Darfur, that we need to regain momentum. They need to apply themselves to the hard work of peace. The framework is there, in the Comprehensive Peace Accord, which was negotiated by the Sudanese, there was a slow down with the death of John Garang, thereís some actions over the past week that theyíre starting to get back on course, including the creation of the important Assessment and Evaluation Commission, the National Petroleum Commission, but we now have to make those work. And so in the context of the north-south accord, the roadmap is there, weíve got to speed up the follow through, and weíve got to build the confidence of the parties to work with one another, to pursue the course of the peace.

In the case of Darfur, the African Union forces are now up to about 7,000 people. The humanitarian supplies continue to come in but the peace has been very fragile, and violence has increased over the course of the past few weeks. That violence may be associated with some jockeying of the parties, in the peace process that is coordinated by the African Union taking place in Abuja, but that violence risks unraveling by the very fragile situation in Darfur, so there again, weíve got to regain the momentum by getting people to respect the cease fire, come up with a coherent negotiating position, so when the negotiations resume on November 20 to get the rebels as well as the government of national unity to make more progress in a peace accord, because fighting and killing will not provide the solution.

QUESTION: Do you have any time frame goal in terms of Darfur, because thereís been talk even about the end of the year being a possible time frame goal? Do you have anything like that?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Jan Prank, the UN Secretary Generalís representative, was pushing for the further step, or some additional results by the end of the year, thatís what Iíll be pushing for too. Now, thatís highly ambitious to have a wrapped up accord, but what I would like to see by the end of the year is some further step beyond the declaration of principles. So that we can demonstrate that thereís progress being made.

QUESTION: As you were saying, there was this rebel meeting in Darfur, Menawi managed to get himself elected chairman. The way you described it they seem to be unifying, does that mean that you accept this election, even though the previous chairman does not accept it, thereís, but thatís what youíre there to work out, I guess.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Itís up for the parties in Darfur, particularly the SLM to come together in their own fashion. I canít tell them how to do that. It appears that this conference, which was partly having set up because of our prior efforts and because we were urging them to unify, has taken constructive steps. Until I get there I really you know wonít be able to have a sense, and until I hear from them, of what theyíve accomplished. And obviously my message is that I would urge them to unify in the most inclusive fashion as possible. So the former chairman, Abdul Wahid, is not at the conference.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) constructive steps? The UN said before this meeting was underway that they would not (inaudible)Ö

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, I think all the outside parties have to deal with the SLM as it is. And if the SLM was able to pull together 2500 people in over 40 tribes, that looks like a useful step. And I donít know for sure who was left out other than Abdul Wahid. He is coming to this meeting. And Iím going to be pressing them to follow up by trying to make it as broad based as possible because my goal is that they come to the Abuja peace talks with a unified negotiating position, and that they return to a cease fire. So itís not only political unity, itís also command and control of the military forces. You have military commanders that appear to have operated relatively autonomously within the framework. Since weíve got to make sure that weíre stopping the violence, returning to the cease fire, Iím also going to be pressing them about how their military structure relates to their political structure.

QUESTION: On the AU, what (inaudible) if Sudan actually does assume the Presidency of the AU in January as scheduled? (Inaudible).

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, you have the African Union mission is (inaudible) by an organizational structure, so youíve got Salim, the designation for the negotiations, Kingibe is the special rep for dealing with this, whoís the other fellow Conari, is the head of the peace and security, so in some ways, the analogy would be like the European Union where you switch the presidency, but you have an ongoing structure. And so I think the African Unionís willingness to have the government in Khartoum play a role will depend on its also willing to get back on track. One of the things that I urged Taha and will urge Bashir and Taha again is that the Government of National Unity needs to show more clearly its support for the African Union mission. One way to do that, in a practical way, is to get 105 Armored Personnel Carriers in there, but I think there are other ways that they can demonstrate that the African Union is helping to protect Sudanese lives so that they should give them more aid.

QUESTION: So the actual rotating Presidency wonít have much of an impactÖ?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, thatís for the African Union to decide. Weíre in regular touch with the current chair, which is Nigeria Obasanjo. And I donít expect his interest to wane. I talked to him by phone after the peacekeepers died and Jendayi was just in touch with his people for the past days on this. So no, I donít think itís going to be significant role to in the process.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Comprehensive Peace Agreements as a model for Darfur, or do you foresee a possibility of actually bringing the Darfur region into that power sharing, revenue sharing agreement so that those three major regions of Sudan would all be part of one major agreement, or will (inaudible).

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, itís both. The CPA itself, remember, it starts out with a power sharing of seats in the assembly, and in the cabinet, and others. But it envisions elections throughout Sudan, after four years. So, on the one hand, it provides the political framework but it also provides a rough model for the negotiations between the rebel groups in Darfur and the Government of National Unity. But when I say rough model, Iím not, Iím trying to say it doesnít mean that every provision would be the same. But the concepts of power sharing, wealth sharing, sort of trying to cooperate for economic develop are sort of the core aspects. And thatís one reason why, another reason weíre holding this conference is that what Salim Salim the African Union chief coordinators has tried to do in Abuja is to do some briefings for the SLM. Weíre going to provide more in-depth explanation, including by some of the people that were involved with creating the CPA to explain what lies behind those provisions. So part of the message to them is to the SLM, if you return to the cease fire, you end the violence, get yourself organized, present a unified position, we will offer you the backlog help so you can negotiate effectively. I will be discussing with them other things that we can help with their transportation costs, we can try to help them consider subsequent development steps, so thereís a positive carrot out there. But I need to make very clear that if they pursue a path of violence they wonít win and theyíll lose the major asset that they need, which is international support.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: The way the ICC process works, is once itís launched, the chief prosecutor, a man by the name of Luis Moreno Ocampo, they go off on their own, and decide to pursue their investigations. And they donít discuss it with us or others. Now you guys can check on this, but their statements have basically said they want to try to focus on some of the major targets and they recognize that for the process of accountability they also need to have Sudanese action for accountability. Now the Sudanese government and this is, youíre correct, one of the things I wanted them to do, have said theyíre going to set up their own systems of investigations of courts. Theyíve started to do so. I donít think thereís been any action yet. So itís another one of the points Iíll be raising in the speech in my remarks is the need to have accountability. And my basic point will be the ICC will be proceeding. Itís best for the Sudanese to take their own steps to try to have accountability because I believe that would contribute to overall confidence in the peace process. Now you asked something else, they havenít been on the ground, I donít know, we can try to check. But again, they operate very independently, itís in their nature to do so, so I just donít know if itís the case or not.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) were talking earlier about positive carrots the United States can use when talking to various parties (inaudible).

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: With the rebels (inaudible) Iíll be starting. The major carrot is to have the support and backing of the United States and I hope others (inaudible) show the international system that will be there. That means material support, it means background preparation for the negotiations, it means the prospect as was the case in the north-south accord, the assessment mission, that if theyíre making progress on the ground that what would be the needs for development that would supplement a peace accord. And it means that we will be pressing the Government of National Unity to (inaudible) congress party, but also urging the SPLM to play an active role in those negotiations. It also means that weíre continuing to give strong support to the African Union and the UN providing the things that will provide security protection that the African Union offers, and humanitarian supplies. For the CPA, for the SPLM, and the Government of National Unity, which really have been set out by the CPA, the major benefits are types of backing on the development side that were sketched out at the Oslo Conference. And on top of that, and I think would be very important for the government in Khartoum is achieving some international acceptability. But theyíre not going to achieve international acceptability if the CPA comes apart.

QUESTION: What does the government have to do in order for the U.S. to consider lifting the sanctions?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: As Iíve explained to Taha and others, the mood in the U.S. on sanctions remains pretty negative. Because people see these events in Darfur and the slowdown on the CPA, so they have to get back on track on the CPA. And again, they took some steps in the past week but now theyíve got to follow through on those. They need to help us push forward the peace process from Abuja for Darfur and help the African Union forces. And I think there has to be some trust built and some confidence built before we can consider taking those steps.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: As I mentioned last week, we agreed to have a committee of subcommittees, to have an integrated SPLM, National Congress Party, Government of National Unity negotiating position. They havenít done that. So, I would like to get that position, and Iíd like to get it as soon as possible. And then another indicator is whether theyíll be cooperative in the Abuja negotiations. Frankly, that hasnít been tested yet because the rebels havenít had their act together.

QUESTION: (Inaudible).

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I donít think theyíre much beyond the principles. As you recall, the principles that were done in July, give the framework that builds on the CPA model. So, the outlines of that sort of power sharing and wealth sharing are there. But the details, they havenít reached that stage of the negotiation.

QUESTION: Do you support a merging of the roles of the UN with the AU (inaudible)Öor a separate entity?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well one of the things I wanted to stress with all parties but starting with the AU is how they assess the future of the African Union peacekeeping mission. Theyíre up to about 7,000. If you recall there was some prospect they would get the numbers up to over 12,000 or 15,000, 10,000 to 12,000. I think thatís highly unlikely. They were supposed to get up to 7,700, because of the withdrawal of some South African forces I think theyíre going to have a hard time getting to 7,700. So the question is on the one hand we need to support the African Union because theyíre the guys on the ground and theyíve lost lives, theyíve done a decent job as Iíve mentioned before, their mission is peace keeping, and they can only do it if thereís a peace to keep itís not a peace enforcement mission. I think the armored personnel carriers will help them, with stability and further protection, but thereís also been discussion of whether they will want to go in the direction of what they did with ECAWAS mission where some of the African Union forces might be "blue-hatted" they might bring other "blue-hatted" forces in.

But, this is not a panacea. Keep in mind thereís a UN mission in the south, okay, and itís been rather slow to develop. Itís supposed to have about 10,000 troops, 5,000 civilian and others, itís up to about 3700 now, it was slowed because of weather. And frankly I want to avoid a situation where youíre having a gap in the protection between the African Union and if thereís a decision to have a UN force.

Now, another question is if the government of national unity starts to develop integrated forces as theyíre supposed to, a combination of SPLM and current government of Sudan, might those forces also play a role. This is one of the ideas that the SPLM will offer. So I will be trying to discuss with all the parties, number one, what can we do to strengthen the AU and what do they feel they need, number two, whatís the AUís perspective on the future; three, what are the possibilities or options for expanding the UN peacekeeping mission for the south to also cover Darfur, perhaps including some of the African Union forces, and I donít know what number Iím, on the fifth? Is there a role for joint integrated forces. But again, my message is that the United States, sometimes I might add a lonely voice, is that all these forces can do is maintain a fragile truce until thereís a peace agreement. So Iím trying to emphasize the need to get the peace negotiations done. Because until you get the peace negotiations done, you keep 2 million people in camps, you have the Janjaweed in there, theyíre not demobilized, and people canít return. So one of the issues that I was trying to talk to our AID people about was what the food needs are, is that this is harvest season, (inaudible) is going to depend on what happens to some of the people that have been trying to till their fields. One of the places we went to (inaudible) that was not a camp, it was sort of a protected village, and people were trying to plant (inaudible) so some of you may know, you know, Darfur will remain a tragedy if you keep 2 million people in camps. So weíve got to create a peace agreement that creates a chance for a security situation, demobilize the Janjaweed, get people to return home safely.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I think the government helped create the Janjaweed and whatever the situation now theyíve got to play a role in demobilizing the Janjaweed.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: This is an environment, Iím just being careful, because this is an environment where the information I get is ragged, okay? So you have some accusation of ongoing government support, and you have some descriptions that the Janjaweed can act autonomously. Keep in mind at this very moment; this is one of the things that contributed to violence. This is the season where some of the 30 tribes will move their cattle. And so, everybody is armed. So youíre at the borderline between tribes herding their cattle and the Janjaweed starts to get a little murky. So some of the violence youíve had is people moving their cattle, some of the response by some of the pastoral tribes and some of the response by the herders.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) perception Iíve read about, the government (inaudible) certainly is to their advantage. Do you believe the government has helped foster it and how would it do that?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: There are some reports of outside players, not only the Khartoum government, but frankly other governments in the region. And one way they foster either unity or disunity is money. I donít believe it is in the governmentís interest to have a disunified rebel group. Because then they canít complete the negotiation. Now there may very well be local government or various factions or others that see a temporary advantage from rebel disunity. But part of my message is, rebel disunity will only lead to increased violence and breakdown and I donít see how thatís in anybodyís advantage. And particularly as I repeated to the government on many occasions, if thereís trauma in Darfur, the government will be held responsible. So the government has an interest in trying to get the parties unified. And have a peace negotiation. Iíll just say that in my conversations with Taha and others, when I emphasized the effort weíre making to have the rebels be unified so they can negotiate they seemed to see that as a positive step. But that doesnít preclude other people playing games along the way.

###

2005/1022


Released on November 8, 2005

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