Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Namibia Elections.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the measures which the Irish Government and the EC are taking or will take in order to ensure a proper registration process and adequate preparations for a proper electoral process in Namibia in the forthcoming electoral process.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the recent contacts which he has had with the UN or EC regarding the Namibian situation; and if he will press for the confinement of South African troops to base and the commencement of reduction and withdrawal in accordance with the Peace Plan, in view of the fact that the UN have announced that all SWAPO forces are in bases under UN supervision.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 10 together.

The Government have monitored developments in Namibia on a close and continuing basis both through their contacts with the United Nations and partners among the Twelve. Following the agreement reached in Cape Town at the end of April between South Africa, Angola and Cuba, the South African-led troops in Namibia returned to base on 13 May. The United Nations Secretariat have been informed by the South African authorities that the agreed reduction of South African forces to 1,500 troops will be completed by 24 June next. With the withdrawal of SWAPO forces to bases in Angola, it is hoped that tensions in the area will be reduced significantly thus enabling the independence process to continue smoothly and unhindered. We remain firm in our commitment of unqualified support for the Secretary General, his special representative and the UNTAG force commander in their roles in bringing this about.

The next phase of the independence process will see the intensification of the electoral campaign. The initial arrangements for the electoral process are already under way. The Administrator General published on 24 April 1989 a draft registration of voters proclamation. After an appropriate period for the receipt of comments and views the special representative and the Administrator General will establish a final text taking into account the views expressed. The special represenatative must be satisfied that the final text is adequate to ensure free and fair elections and the United Nations is determined to ensure that this mandate is discharged in full.

We will, of course, continue to monitor closely the implementation of the UN plan. The Government have every confidence that the UN will implement the mandate given to the UN special representative in Resolution 435 of the Security Council to "ensure the early independence of Namibia through free elections under the supervision and control of the United Nations". The Government will continue to support the UN in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process.

In view of the fact that unlike Nicaragua, there is not a campaign of disinformation against South Africa that is either CIA or Christian Democrat supported, in relation to the registration process, will the preparations include, for example an enfranchisement of 18 years and upwards as is consistent with usual UN procedures? Have the investigations of the Department of Foreign Affairs to date elicited any assurance that the South African administration's interference in the process of preparation is one that is not a cause for concern? Will this House be represented at the monitoring process?

The curtain has been lowered on this act, a Cheann Comhairle.

The lights have gone out. The implementation and supervision of the electoral process is a matter for the UN. The special representative, assisted in particular by the civilian and police contingents of UNTAG, has a very strong mandate to supervise the conduct of the election. Already the special representative is closely involved with the efforts to establish in a fair and impartial manner the register of electors and he has indicated his determination to see to it that the electoral process and campaign will respond to the criteria laid down in the UN plan.

Is the information available to the Minister of State to date sufficient to assure us, for example, that the criteria laid down by the UN special representative will meet those of the international lawyers' group, a specialised group on the study of the registration process and electoral procedures?

The special representative will see to it that the preparations for the campaign will respond to the criteria laid down in the UN plan.

The Minister indicated he was hopeful that by 24 June the South African troops will be reduced to 1,500. I am without access to the Minister's detailed information, so will he confirm that that process has commenced? Have the South Africans stopped the heavy militarisation of the northern area and have they commenced the reduction in the numbers of troops there and the withdrawal? Are the troops back in their bases?

I assure the Deputy they are back in their bases but I cannot say whether they have started to reduce the number of forces. They have guaranteed that that reduction will be completed by 24 June.