HC Deb 21 March 1984 vol 56 cc1032-3
2. Mr. Bowen Wells

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on developments in the negotiations on Namibian independence.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

We remain committed to Namibian independence on the basis of free and fair elections in accordance with Security Council resolution 435. We welcome recent developments in Southern Africa, which must improve prospects for a settlement, notably the signing of a pact between South Africa and Mozambique and the progress towards disengagement of South African troops from Southern Angola.

Mr. Wells

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. What role has Britain played in trying to bring about a settlement in that area, particularly with Namibia and Angola in mind? What is his reaction to the recent statement from Havana in which conditions were set for the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola?

Mr. Rifkind

We have used numerous opportunities to impress upon all the parties the need to make the proposed disengagement of South African troops from Angola a success. That will undoubtedly increase the prospects for the independence of Namibia under Security Council resolution 435.

The declaration by the Cuban and Angolan Governments is welcome in so far as it shows a willingness to begin the withdrawal of Cuban troops, albeit subject to certain conditions. Naturally, we believe that the removal of all foreign troops from Angola would be helpful in trying to solve problems of the region as a whole.

Mr. Nellist

Is the Minister aware of the continued detention of a British subject, Mr. Alan Roberts of Warwick university, by the security police of Namibia, under security regulation AG9, without charge, for more than three weeks? For how long will the Government tolerate that incarceration of a British citizen? What is the hon. Gentleman doing to convey the British people's abhorrence at the detention without charge of this British subject and to deal with the problems faced by his wife and family?

Mr. Rifkind

The British consul travelled from Cape Town to Windhoek on 14 March specifically to see Mr. Roberts, and there have been a number of additional telephone conversations between our consular staff and Mr. Roberts. We have been in touch with the South African authorities, who have assured us that within a short period Mr. Roberts will either be released or charged with a specific offence. We have encouraged them to keep to that assurance.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Has my hon. Friend seen the interesting report by the all-party group that visited Namibia, particularly the conclusion that Namibia was not viable in practical terms as an independent state? Will he comment on that?

Mr. Rifkind

I have read with great interest the report to which my hon. Friend refers. It is the case that the independence of Namibia under Security Council resolution 435 is an objective shared by most of the United Nations and one which the South African Government have said they are prepared to support. In those circumstances, we must seek independence of Namibia. It may be that there is a need for friendly countries to consider what help to give to an independent Namibian Government, but that should not in any way deter us from the objective of an independent Namibia which is agreed by all the parties.

Mr. Johnston

Will the Minister define the expression "all-party", which is rather loosely used?

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman must address that question to the members of the group that has been referred to.

Mr. Anderson

Is it the Government's assessment that South Africa is still persisting with its attempt to obtain a settlement outside the United Nations framework with Angola, the internal parties and SWAPO? Will he make it clear that for the Government the search for a peaceful settlement can come only on the basis of resolution 435?

Mr. Rifkind

Concern has been expressed at the recent statement by the South African Foreign Minister envisaging a round table conference of a number of parties in South Africa. We have been encouraged by South Africa's assurance that that is in no way intended to circumvent Security Council resolution 435. We have emphasised that we continue to see that as the proper, and indeed the best, basis for achieving Namibian independence.

Back to
Forward to