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S. Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Kenya

By Jimmy Carter

Our primary goals for this trip were to visit our grandson Jason in S. Africa, to travel through Swaziland, to monitor the elections for parliament and president in Mozambique, and to respond to a request from Presidents Museveni and al Bashir to mediate the long-standing dispute between Uganda and Sudan.

Visit with Jason in S. Africa and Swaziland:
Rosalynn and I flew from Atlanta to Johannesburg via Miami and Cape Town. We then drove about 90 miles east of the city to Badplaas, a hot springs resort, to meet Jason. We spent a day and a half in Lochiel Village with Jason and his "extended family" of about 10 people. We exchanged a lot of gifts and visited with students, teachers, principals, and others with whom Jason lives and works each day. Despite the rain, pre-school and other students performed for us, and it was obvious that Jason is a great favorite and is very effective in his work in improving the quality of the school system.

The next day, Rosalynn, Jason, and I drove to Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, where we met with various officials. We then proceeded to the Mkhaya Wildlife Refuge, where we enjoyed seeing about a dozen rhinos and other large animals, 34 species of birds, and a native dancer troup. We also visited with a Dutch group headed by Prince Bernhard, and learned about Swaziland's successful effort to protect and rehabilitate endangered species of large animals that are indigenous to the country.

Although King Mswati III was supposed to remain in seclusion for a cleansing ritual, he invited us to visit him. We enjoyed a long conversation about his family, Swazi customs, his plans for the future of the country, and some of their most serious problems - notably, the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The king is a handsome 31-year-old, well educated in England, and apparently popular with his people (and with Swazis in the region of S. Africa where Jason works). He is currently making small moves toward democracy.

Mozambique election:
After a night at the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel, we told Jason goodbye and drove through miles of beautiful country-side to Mozambique, where Ambassador Dean Curran accompanied us to Maputo. The Carter Center has been involved in the country since August, monitoring voter registration, the conduct of the political campaigns, and other preparations for the election. In 1998, when Rosalynn and I were here to inspect our Global 2000 agriculture projects involving the production of rice and maize, we began to encourage Alonzo Dhlakama to let his RENAMO Party participate in elections.

However, at that time President Joaquim Chissano and the majority FRELIMO Party had total control of the electoral process and refused to give opposition groups any voice in it. Although RENAMO boycotted last year's municipal elections, the laws were then changed and we agreed to come back for this national election.

Previously, the only elections ever held had been conducted in 1994 by the United Nations following a peace agreement that ended a bloody civil war between the communist FRELIMO regime and the RENAMO revolutionaries supported by apartheid governments in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa. Chissano was elected president, and his party won a majority (53%) of the parliamentary seats, with RENAMO and one smaller UD party forming the opposition. Now, five years later, the Mozambicans were conducting their own election, with the European Union and us serving as the primary international observers.

Voter registration has been quite successful, with 7.1 million voters having qualified out of a potential 8.3 million (86%), and with a general acceptance of the final list. The campaign itself was marred by a few instances of violence, but no one was killed or seriously injured. It is obvious that FRELIMO used (or abused) its government incumbency, majority control of the National Electoral Commission, fund-raising abilities, and domination of highly partisan news media to its full advantage. The two most serious complaints by RENAMO were that official funding from the international community was withheld from them for the first two weeks of the campaign, and that there was serious abuse and intimidation of RENAMO leaders in three areas of the Tete province.

For some reason, election officials refused to permit us to conduct our usual "quick count," where we observe the counting of votes in a small representative sample of places and use the results to estimate the outcome of the election. At our press conference, the news media seemed angry at this restriction on our ability to assess the tabulation of results, but we had to comply with the official ruling.

With a population of about 17 million, Mozambique has been having little inflation and good annual GNP increase on a percentage basis, but is still far behind, having started at practically zero following the long war. At the current rate, it will take 15 years to equal today's per capita income of Zimbabwe and 25 years to catch South Africa or Botswana. Compared to the average of other sub-Saharan nations, its infant mortality rate is 147 v. 93, illiteracy rate 62% v. 50%, and most economic benefits have gone to a relatively small elite.

Although Chissano has now adopted free market principles, the communist legacy is still apparent in Maputo, with the most prominent streets named for Kim il Sung, Lenin, and Mao Tse Tung. According to political scientists and human rights leaders, there has been no substantial land reform, school grades are often bought by bribing destitute teachers, economic improvements are concentrated in the Maputo area, and most jobs, business licenses and other perquisites go to supporters of FRELIMO.

This has brought about widespread criticisms of the government, but many people remember RENAMO'S abuse and destruction during the civil war, and Dhlakama has mounted a very poor campaign, only partially because of a lack of funds. All in all, the people are justifiably proud of the progress they have made.

Our Carter Center teams were dispatched to all 10 outlying provinces before we arrived. Rosalynn, John Hardman, former Botswana president Masire, our co-chairman, and I remained in the capitol area. We met with the presidential candidates, party leaders, and members of the National Election Commission (CNE). Rosalynn and I then observed the conduct of the election in 71 "mesas" in Maputo on Dec. 3. On Dec. 4 we observed about 15 "mesas"in Beira (about 400 miles north). The process was well organized and quiet, with a turnout rate of about 70% during the first two days.

We were surprised when the CNE extended voting for another day because 77 of the 8,350 voting places had received their materials late. By the third full day of voting, all except 11 mesas with about 8,000 voters (all in Zambezia province) had completed the process -- almost 99.9% of the total. Our team visited 550 voting sites with about 500,000 registered voters. All international observers agreed that the registration and voting had been very orderly and proper.

An accurate vote count is the remaining uncertainty, with provincial tabulations not to be completed until Dec. 13 and the national totals on Dec. 19. The two political parties will have received almost complete returns from their observers in all mesas where the final vote counts will be posted within a day or two, and we will have a few monitors in Mozambique until the entire process is completed.

Negotiations in Kenya:
Rosalynn left a day early to attend a child immunization conference in Washington. After a press conference, Gordon Streeb and I flew to Johannesburg, spent the night, then traveled through Harare to Nairobi. When we arrived, Joyce Neu, Tom Crick, and Vince Farley were assembled at the Windsor Golf and Country Club near Nairobi with contact groups from Uganda and Sudan. Since I received invitations from the two presidents last April, our team, including Craig Withers, had met in London, Khartoum, and Kampala to prepare for this final phase.

When President al Bashir arrived, I met with him and Ambassador Mahdi Ibrahim, whom I have known many years. I listened to their position and urged them to continue to restrain Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (no raids into Uganda for eight months), return all abducted children possible, cooperate with the IGAD peace process, and work to resolve all other differences with Uganda. I also met with the Uganda contact group, assessed their position on key issues, and that night typed up my version of the most substantive and fair text I could devise.

The next morning, when President Museveni arrived from Uganda, I went over the text with him, agreed to a few changes that I thought were reasonable, and then after two more rounds of back and forth mediation, induced both sides to agree to the same text. We decided to go into Nairobi, where we had a formal signing ceremony at President Moi's office, and he and I witnessed the agreement. I explained to the news media that Uganda and Sudan had broken diplomatic relations five years ago, that frequent armed clashes had continued along their common border, and that both presidents had asked me to mediate their disputes.

Then I outlined the main points:

  • Each will respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the other, renounce the use of force to resolve differences, and will take steps to prevent any hostile actions against each other.
  • Both will make every effort to disband and disarm terrorist groups and to prevent any acts of terrorism or hostile actions that might endanger the security of the other nation.
  • Neither will harbor, sponsor, or give military or logistical support to any rebel groups, or hostile elements from each others' territories.
  • Both will join in a common effort to promote regional peace, on their own initiative and in full support of IGAD's role in bringing an end to the civil war in Sudan.
  • Both will refrain from hostile and negative propaganda campaigns against each other.
  • All prisoners of war will be returned to their respective nations.
  • Both condemn any abuse or injury of innocent citizens, and will make a special effort to locate any abductees, especially children who have been kidnapped in the past, and return them to their families. All information about such cases will be shared with The Carter Center, UNICEF, and other international organizations, and we will cooperate fully in the search and rescue of these victims, beginning immediately with those who can be personally identified.
  • Both will honor international laws governing refugees, NGO activities, and cross-border transportation, and facilitate the return or resettlement of refugees in accordance with UNHCR regulations.
  • Amnesty and reintegration assistance will be offered to all former combatants who renounce the use of force.

If all other terms of this agreement are honored satisfactorily, offices will be opened within a month of this date in both capital cities and junior diplomatic personnel will be assigned for service. By the end of February, 2000, ambassadors will be exchanged and full diplomatic relations restored.

Ministerial level committees will be established to enhance cooperation on security, political, and humanitarian issues.

After the signing ceremony, I enjoyed supper with Richard and Meave Leakey at their home within a game park near Nairobi. Richard explained some of the inner workings of the Kenyan government from his perspective as Secretary to the Cabinet, Head of the Civil Service, and personal advisor to the President. We also had a long talk about how the IGAD peace process could be made more effective.

Thursday morning, I met at length with the two presidents, to reconfirm what we had decided and to prepare for future implementation. President Museveni will use his influence with SPLA leader John Garang to seek peaceful solutions to their problems, and President al Bashir will continue to restrain cross-border raids into Uganda, cooperate fully with the IGAD peace process, and seek Ugandan children who have been abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army.

I suggested that he appoint Agnes Poni Lukudu, Minister of Manpower and former governor of Juba to work with us on this task. She is a black Christian whom we have come to know well during our visits to Southern Sudan. The Sudanese asked that The Carter Center send representatives to Khartoum to advise them on multi-party parliamentary elections now planned for February.

It is obvious to everyone that the main purpose of U.S. State Department policy is to harass the Arab regime in Khartoum and to refrain from any meaningful help for the IGAD effort to bring peace to Sudan. Despite this, most African leaders now see some improved hope for progress in the Sudan peace effort, encompassing freedom of worship and self-determination for the people in Southern Sudan, an end to the long and bloody war, return of displaced families to their homes, a fair sharing of the nation's wealth, and assistance in rebuilding their lives. We think an agreement is within reach if the IGAD process can ever gain adequate support from the international community.

During the afternoon our tired and overworked staff went with me to the remarkable Kenya National Museum, where Meave Leakey gave us a lecture and used the family's original hominid artifacts to illustrate how human life has developed during the past 5 million years. We all hope that the next few months will bring peace to the suffering people of Sudan - almost two million of whose loved ones have perished in this most vicious of all existing wars.

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