HC Deb 28 November 1979 vol 974 cc1267-9
4. Mr. Ford

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the progress of the latest round of talks concerning Namibia called by the United Nations Secretary-General.

5. Mr. Hooley

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether any agreement has been reached between the five Western States and the Government of South Africa on a date for the termination of South Africa's illegal occupation of Namibia.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Richard Luce)

The United Nations Secretary-General arranged consultations in Geneva from 12 to 16 November between senior United Nations officials, the five Western Powers and representatives of the parties to the Namibia negotiations. There were useful discussions of the proposal for a demilitarised zone on Namibia's northern border. I hope that this proposal will contribute to a solution of the problems holding up implementation of the United Nations plan for elections under United Nations supervision and control and, of course, South African withdrawal.

Mr. Ford

Is the Minister aware that there is considerable scepticism about whether Mr. Sam Nujoma represents properly the view of all the peoples of Namibia and that there is great apprehension about the arrangements to be made to contain SWAPO forces during a ceasefire and/or an election? Will the Minister ensure that our representatives take into account the representations of all parties within Namibia, including the multi-racial parties?

Mr. Luce

It is for the people of Namibia and no one else to decide who should be their representative. As regards the containment of SWAPO activities, that is precisely the point of the proposals for a demilitarised zone. Its purpose is to provide for the anxieties expressed in certain quarters about maintaining security during the holding of free and fair elections. On the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question, the internal parties are not parties to the ceasefire discussions, but, in terms of holding elections in Namibia, they are equal with any other party taking part in the elections.

Mr. Jim Spicer

I agree with my hon. Friend that it is for the people of Namibia to decide who is to form a Government, but why does the United Nations hold firmly to the view that only SWAPO is, or can be, the legal Government of Namibia? Is it not time for a change in that direction; and cannot the Government do something to ease us towards that?

Mr. Luce

The Government's view is that it is for the people of Namibia to decide. One development that it is important to acknowledge is that all the parties to the problem of Namibia have accepted that there should be United Nations-supervised elections under United Nations authority. That is an important political basis on which to proceed.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Will the hon. Gentleman ensure that he is not carried away by the South African propaganda which is, regrettably, espoused in the House? Is it not clear that the South Africans have no intention of allowing a stable Government and a peaceful settlement in Namibia? Will the Minister recall for discussions the Government's representative in Luanda, since he can personally report on the regular marauding of South African troops into southern Angola?

Mr. Luce

I have no intention of being carried away by anybody. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the South African Government took part in what the Secretary-General of the United Nations regarded as useful discussions about a demilitarised zone. As long as they are prepared to continue discussions, one must assume that they are interested in a negotiated settlement.

Mr. William Shelton

Does my hon. Friend agree that the future of Namibia may depend to some extent on a peaceful conclusion to the problem of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia?

Mr. Luce

I accept that the two issues are inter-related. If we can make progress on one, it may assist us in making progress on the other.

Mr. Shore

The Minister has reported some progress, but it is not very specific and we are all aware that the negotiations have taken an exceptionally long time. Can he tell us a little more about the present area of disagreement to be negotiated and when the next stage in the negotiations will start?

Mr. Luce

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that in the spring of this year the major outstanding matter on which there was an impasse was the question of security and the provision of security for the holding of free and fair elections in Namibia. Since then, there have been extensive consultations about how we can overcome the problem. That is what led to the concept of a demilitarised zone, which is the subject of discussions at present. As a result of the discussions in Geneva, the United Nations Secretary-General has proposed that there should be further detailed discussions about that idea, subject, of course, to the acceptance by all parties of the concept of a demilitarised zone.

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