The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the meeting between President Mbeki and Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir in Cape Town today. We hope that the meeting between the two presidents will yield positive results and assist Sudan in coming closer to achieving a lasting political settlement between north and south as well as peace in the embattled Darfur region.
While the Sudanese strongman is head of state, the DA believes that a lavish reception by President Mbeki would send the wrong message about South Africa’s stance against human rights abuse. South Africa has, on more than one occasion, compromised its position on human rights. The DA hopes that the reception of President Al Bashir is a muted one. A hero’s welcome would not be appropriate.
This is an important meeting, but it is also important that South Africa takes careful note of the allegations of human rights abuse and complicity that have been levelled at President Al Bashir, and while it is important that South Africa assists to bring peace to the region, we must not do so in a manner that negates a principled stance for human rights.
President Mbeki is clearly a key player in any African peace mission because of South Africa’s influential role in the AU and its current role in the UN Security Council. The DA therefore calls upon the President to insist that President Al Bashir abide by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which calls for the full withdraw of Khartoum’s troops from the south.
President Mbeki should make it clear that while negotiations are crucial to restore order to the region, normal relations between Sudan and the international community can never take place until we are all satisfied that genocide has ceased and that the Sudanese government is cooperating with the peace processes in both Darfur and in the south. Under no circumstances should SA engage in trade and economic discussions with Sudan until human rights abuses are brought to an end.