Item 1381 - Address by Nelson Mandela at the fifth OAU extraordinary summit in Sirte, Libya, March 2001

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ZA COM MR-S-1381


Address by Nelson Mandela at the fifth OAU extraordinary summit in Sirte, Libya, March 2001


  • 2001-03-01 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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Fifth OAU extraordinary summit in Sirte, Libya, March 2001 ; Date (month) is estimate

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  • English

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We sincerely thank our host for having invited us, former heads of states, to join with you at this occasion. The deliberations you are conducting are crucial to the future well being of our beloved continent, and we are honoured to be present.

I would merely want to take the opportunity to brief you in a few short words on two issues with which I have been involved. These are the matters relating to the Lockerbie trial recently concluded in the Netherlands, and secondly, the peace process in Burundi.

As you are all well aware the special court convened in the Netherlands to hear the case against the two Libyan nationals accused of the Lockerbie bombing, has now reached a verdict. One of the accused was found guilty and the other acquitted.

We are grateful that the due process had been followed and was hopeful that the matter will now have been concluded. Libya fully co-operated with the Court and one was anticipating the final lifting of sanctions.

In fact, I must say that we were expecting sanctions to be lifted quite a while ago. You may again recall that the relevant Security Council resolutions stipulated that once Libya handed over the two suspects, sanctions would be automatically suspended. And the Secretary-General had that effected on the same day as the handing over.

Bur from the discussions and consultations I had with some of the leaders concerned immediately before the handing over, I had the expectations that the United Kingdom and the United States would move to have the UN sanctions permanently lifted soon after the handing over. I recently again wrote to the leaders of those countries stating that the Libyans can justifiably feel that the undertakings we gave on behalf of others persuading them to hand over their nationals, had not been abided by.

However that may be, one would have thought that the conclusion of the court case was the signal for the formal lifting of sanctions. We learn though that the United States and the United Kingdom insist upon Libya assuming responsibility for the bombing and payment of compensation before they lift sanctions.

I have studied the judgement of the court and nowhere is the Libyan leadership found guilty or responsible. As I have written to the leaders of those two countries: I have been a head of state and government. Often intelligence agencies have reported to me on what they have done or were going to do; on the other hand it often happened that I was not informed and had occasion to rebuke or reprimand them for actions taken. I am certain that the same applies to those heads of state and government. On what grounds can they now hold Colonel Qaddafi responsible without the Court having made such a finding, I asked.

I attached to my correspondence for the information of those leaders copies of a legal opinion containing decisions of the International Court of Justice, which show convincingly that a Head of State or Government of an independent country cannot be implicated unless there is direct and convincing evidence of his complicity.

I also wrote to the Secretary-General of the United Nations urging him as well to have those requirements in the Security Council resolutions removed, and sanctions formally lifted. Apart from the moral considerations, I have the concern that nations may start disregarding UN resolutions and that such challenges to the authority of our world body is not desirable. We should therefore avoid circumstances that could encourage such challenges to its authority.

I continue to be in discussion with those leaders who undertook themselves to be in direct discussions with Libya in order to come to a speedy final resolution.

On Burundi, I can also report significant progress although a number of difficult matters remain to be worked through. I was privileged to inherit a well advanced process when I took over as Facilitator from the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who had done such a sterling job in laying the foundations of that process.

You will once more recall that the nineteen participating parties in the Arusha-based peace process signed a political agreement on 28 August 2000. The two main armed groups were not yet party to this agreement although we had separately been negotiating with them, both in Arusha and in South Africa.

South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma has been playing an important role in that regard, meeting with the different groups and bringing the armed groups into talks with the Burundi government and other political groupings.

We have just returned from a meeting in Arusha with the signatory parties and also with heads of states and governments of the region.

At those meetings the regional leaders endorsed the proposal with regard to transitional arrangements in Burundi. In accordance with this the transitional period shall consist of two phases of 18 months each, the first led by a member of the Tutsi community with a deputy from the Hutu community. In the second phase this arrangement will be reversed.

In this way we hope that greater stability in the interim will be ensured. The restructuring and integration of the National Defence Force will be an important part of this phase and it is particularly necessary that the confidence of all sectors be obtained and ensured.

We are in the process of making arrangements with South Africa and Nigeria to provide forces for peacekeeping in Burundi together with the Burundi Defence Force in the period that leaders from exile return to their country to participate in the interim process.

Another important step would be to secure a cease-fire out of the negotiations with the armed groups. The participation of regional leaders, particularly the new President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, gives us new hope that this will be achieved sooner rather than later.

You may also be aware of the initiative taken by President Jacques Chirac at our request. In December 2000 he convened a meeting of international donors to contribute funds for kick-starting the Burundi economy and society. An amount of close to half-a-billion US dollars was pledged and we trust that this will further encourage the peace process in Burundi.

Dear Friends and colleagues, I thought I needed to brief you on these two matters. It is our wish that progress in these areas will considerably speed up the development of our continent.

I thank you for listening to me.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 01/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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