Southern Africa

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th November 1992.

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Photo of John Hutton John Hutton , Barrow and Furness 12:00 am, 25th November 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit southern Africa to assess the political situation in the region.

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

My right hon. and noble Friend the Minister for Overseas Development may visit the region early next year.

Photo of John Hutton John Hutton , Barrow and Furness

Does the Minister agree that the present situation in Angola is a cause of genuine concern and has the potential to destabilise all southern Africa? Can the Minister tell the House what steps he intends to take to ensure that UNITA not only accepts the result of the September general election, but abides by the terms of the peace agreement?

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

As the hon. Gentleman may be aware, two days ago Mr. Savimbi said that the country must move forward on the basis of the election. That represents some progress. The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the grave difficulties in that country. The important thing is to encourage both sides to refrain from violence and to continue to implement the peace agreement embodied in the earlier agreements.

The United Nations Angola verification mission has had its mandate in that country extended until 30 November and it is important to note that the United Nations Secretary-General will again put proposals before the Security Council to carry forward the peace process in Angola before 30 November.

Photo of Mr George Gardiner Mr George Gardiner , Reigate

When our right hon. and noble Friend next visits southern Africa does she have in mind a visit to Mozambique? In the meantime, would my hon. Friend care to comment on the progress made by the two sides, the Government of Mozambique and Renamo, in moving towards the goal set in the accords that they signed in Rome? Furthermore, will the British Government do their utmost to help both sides achieve a reconciliation that is in accordance with democratic principle?

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

Yes, Madam Speaker. The United Kingdom fully supports the general peace agreement that was signed on 4 October in Rome. We will be playing an active part in the process in future months because we will have representation on the peace process commissions established to monitor the implementation of the agreement.

Mr. Robert Hughes:

As a partner in the United Nations brokering of the election agreement in Angola, do the Government accept that they must do much more than simply adumbrate the novel constitutional theory that those who lose an election are entitled to a coalition government? Does not that encourage Dr. Savimbi in his recalcitrance? Is it not time for the Government to stop pussyfooting about with even-handedness, saying that each side must refrain from violence, when the clear responsibility lies with UNITA to accept the election result and carry on a democratic Government?

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has accepted the significance of what Mr. Savimbi said two days ago when he said that the country must move forward on the basis of the election result. Surely that is a great step forward.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier , Harborough

My hon. Friend may know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has written to me recently about British training of the South African police. Can my hon. Friend say whether any steps will be taken in the near future to offer such training? Does he accept that training in Britain would enhance the move towards full democracy in South Africa?

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

I am afraid that I am not in a position to give my hon. Friend any further information on the subject. There are several British policemen in South Africa as members of both the European Community observer teams—the one for the Goldstone commission and the European Community observer team generally. I am afraid that I cannot answer my hon. Friend's specific point this afternoon.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson , Swansea East

The Minister will be aware that the multi-racial Commonwealth, which encompasses most of the states in the region, has much credibility in South Africa among all the key players and can be a great force for good in South Africa. In those circumstances why do the Government continue to exclude themselves from the Commonwealth Committee of Foreign Ministers on southern Africa?

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

We have no intention at present of joining the Commonwealth Committee of Foreign Ministers on southern Africa.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

Does my hon. Friend agree that we should have an even-handed policy towards all groups in South Africa and southern Africa? To that end does he accept in his position within the Foreign Office that when President Lucas Mangope of Bophuthatswana comes to this country—a man who has sought to establish meaningful democracy in his part of southern Africa—he should have the opportunity, like members of the ANC and other groups in South Africa, of meeting members of the United Kingdom Government?

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

The gentleman will be able to make his request in the usual way.

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale

Is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office aware of the important statement made the other day in Angola by the director-general of elections himself that in his view there were not enough international observers to make sure that irregularities did not take place? That is a moral which the Government should pass on to other African countries, notably Kenya, where elections are pending.

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

The right hon. Gentleman refers to Kenya. Of course there are a large number of countries where the moral should be considered further. As he will know, the election on 29 December will be observed by monitors and observers from the European Community, from the Commonwealth, and from the United States of America.

Photo of Mr Bruce Grocott Mr Bruce Grocott , The Wrekin

Will the Minister take the opportunity in the House today to acknowledge the verdict of all the observers to the Angolan elections that those elections were free and fair? Will he pay tribute to the Angolan people for conducting those elections after so many years of tragic violence? Will he now take steps, through the international community, to ensure that UNITA accepts the election results and the fact that it must obey the terms of the peace accord? In particular, will he ensure that UNITA attends the newly elected Parliament and that its deputies are there to play a full part in the new Angola?

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

As I have said, UNITA has accepted the elections in the form that I have indicated. We hope that the peace process will continue, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the elections. We fully support the determination of the United Nations special representative in Angola that both the legislative and presidential elections were generally free and fair.