Magazine article UN Chronicle

Security Council Demands Disbandment of Paramilitary Forces in Namibia

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Security Council Demands Disbandment of Paramilitary Forces in Namibia

Article excerpt

Concerned at reports of "widespread intimidation and harassment of the civilian population", the Security Council on 29 August demanded the disbandment of all paramilitary and ethnic forces in Namibia, in particular the counter-insurgency unit Koevoet, and dismantling of their command structures, as required by the UN independence plan.

It also demanded strict compliance by all parties concerned, especially South Africa, with the terms of resolution 435 (1978), setting out the UN independence plan for Namibia, and resolution 632 (1989), authorizing its implementation,

On 15 August, Administrator-General Louis Pienaar ordered 1,200 former Koevoet members who had been integrated into the South West Africa Police (SWAPOL) removed from duty in northern Namibia and confined to base under UNTAG supervision.

Many of the 40 speakers participating in Council debate-during seven meetings held between 16 and 29 August-felt that that action was not sufficient: hence the call for disbandment. The African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement requested the Council meet on the issue.

In approving the 10 operative provisions of resolution 640 (1989), the Council called on the Secretary-General to "review the actual situation on the ground with a view to determining the adequacy of the military component" of the UN Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG), in relation to its ability to carry out its responsibilities during the independence process. He was also asked to assess whether an increase in the number of police monitors was necessary.

Mr. Perez de Cuellar was to make sure that "all legislation concerning the electoral process" was in conformity with the UN independence plan. He was also asked to ensure that all proclamations conformed with "internationally accepted norms for the conduct of free and fair elections" and that the proclamation on the Constituent Assembly also respected the sovereign will of the people of Namibia.

The Council also asked the Secretary-General to ensure that "strict impartiality" be observed in providing "media facilities, especially on radio and television, to all parties for the dissemination of information concerning the election".

Before the vote, Sir Crispin Tickell of the United Kingdom said that it had "considerable doubts" about the even-handedness and impartiality of the text. It specifically referred only to one party, South Africa, although more than one party to the Namibia independence plan had flouted its provisions" since 1 April. The United Kingdom would work on the assumption that such reference was an acknowledgement of South Africa's "special responsibilities" under the UN plan. It would vote for the text to sustain the unanimity which "gives this Council's resolutions particular force", he said.

Following the vote, Thomas Pickering of the United States said that the resolution represented a compromise among several strongly held positions about Namibia. "Past experience has shown that the combined, unanimous will of the international community will prevail on Namibia's behalf", he stated.

In leading the debate, James V. Gbeho of Ghana, speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed the view that the Namibia independence plan was "not being faithfully implemented" and that the "general political atmosphere in Namibia is polluted and discouraging". South African actions, he said, had diminished the authority of Special Representative Martti Ahtisaari rather than assisted him to be "an effective' controller".

The "first major concern" of the African Group, he went on, was the "continued presence and violent activities" of Koevoet members, who were "still murdering, maiming and generally harassing rural dwellers", especially SWAPO supporters, "with the obvious intention of compelling them to switch political support"

A second major concern was what Mr. Gbeho called "a loophole" in the recent voter registration proclamation, permitting South African nationals to register and vote in the forthcoming Namibian elections. …

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