Congratulatory Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Ms Sue van der Merwe, on the occasion of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania's
National Day on 27 November 2006
Distinguished Ambassador of the Islamic
Republic of Mauritania, Professor Mohammed El-Hacen Ould Lebatt
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bon Soir Excellences, mesdames, monsieurs,
c'est vraiment un plaisir d' etre parmi vous ce soir.
I would like to thank
you for very much for the invitation to share in the celebration of the Anniversary
of the National Day of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
On behalf of
the government and people of South Africa may I also congratulate your government
and people on the recent successful first round of municipal and legislative elections
held on Sunday, 19 November 2006. South Africa is encouraged by the progress made
thus far in implementing the commitment to ensure the transition to democracy
in two years after the coup d'état in August last year, and that Senate
and Presidential elections are scheduled to take place in the first part of 2007.
For Mauritania, as for South Africa, the road to peace and democracy has
indeed been one of struggle. South Africa suffered many trials and encountered
many obstacles as we worked towards our first democratic elections. We therefore
understand that the implementation of democracy does not happen overnight. It
is a difficult, yet not insurmountable process provided the will exists.
Excellency, South Africa has pledged its support to the efforts of the people
of Mauritania to complete the election processes that will mark the end of the
transitional period. Furthermore we actively support the AU's commitment to the
African Agenda towards peace, security and development for all the peoples of
Africa and we will support any fledgling democracy that wishes to reinforce this
A South African observer team participated in the African Union
mission to observe the elections held last weekend and it thus gives us great
pleasure to note that the preliminary report indicted that the first round of
municipal and legislative elections was conducted in an open and peaceful manner.
The South African observers deployed in Nouakchott presented a positive
report and in it noted that the electoral climate was conducive for the democratic
expression of the will of the people of Mauritania. We wish Mauritania well with
the second round of municipal and legislative elections scheduled to be held on
3 December 2006.
We also welcome the support given by the African region
and of international partners in the implementation of the democratic roadmap
in Mauritania. We are hopeful that the outcome of presidential elections in March
2007 will mark the beginning of a new future for the people of the Mauritania.
a bilateral level, the South African observer team included two technical specialists
from the South African Independent Electoral Commission who were invited by the
Mauritanian authorities to assist the electoral process in developing a greater
degree of electoral effectiveness and efficiency. Our wish is that the two respective
electoral commissions will continued to co-operate closely in order to consolidate
the electoral process.
With the opening of the Mauritanian mission here
in South Africa, we are hopeful that the relationship between our two countries
will grow and strengthen for the benefit of our two peoples.
developments in your country and the general trend of peaceful transitions in
many of our fellow African countries are a source of great encouragement to us,
as we actively strive to rid our continent of all the negative stereotypes associated
with it such war, famine and disease.
In the past twenty years democratic
governance in Africa has advanced considerably. Twenty-five years ago, all but
four of Africa's 53 countries were under military or one party rule. Today, almost
all African countries have embraced political pluralism and the rights of citizens
to form political parties and to compete for elected office.
has now become a part of this trend.
On behalf of the government and the
people of South Africa it gives me great pleasure on this occasion to wish you
and the people of Mauritania good health, peace and prosperity in the challenges
that lies ahead.