HC Deb 28 June 1978 vol 952 cc1368-71
3. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his recent talks with Western Foreign Ministers about the position of Namibia.

13. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the resumed negotiations for ending South Africa's illegal occupation of Namibia.

Dr. Owen

The meeting of the Five's Foreign Ministers reviewed recent developments, particularly the meeting of the front-line States and SWAPO in Luanda. We are determined to press ahead with discussions to secure early agreement on our proposal, and are in touch with the parties concerned.

Mr. Molloy

The propositions and examinations in which my right hon. Friend has been indulging could lead to a settlement in Namibia, but is he aware that at the end of the year Namibia goes to the polls in preparation for independence and that that is now being threatened by South African attacks on SWAPO camps that could lead to assistance for SWAPO by Soviet forces? Is my right hon. Friend further aware that that could damage or even ruin the progressive measures in which he has been involved?

Dr. Owen

I agree with my hon. Friend that the raid on Cassinga has not helped progress towards a settlement. However, it still must be the view of the five Governments that they should try to bring about sufficient support to be able to go to the Security Council and, within the framework of the United Nations, bring Namibia to independence before the end of the year.

Mr. Hooley

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the terms of the Security Council resolution passed unanimously on 13th January 1976 and supported by the United Kingdom require that Walvis Bay should be an integral part of Namibia and that there can be no trading on that score to pacify the South Africans?

Dr. Owen

Our proposals have been published, and everybody knows what we have suggested. There are differing views on the issue of Walvis Bay. It is interesting that all the parties that would compete in an election in Namibia believe that Walvis Bay should be part of Namibia. That is something on which they are unanimous. It is the view of the five Governments that there should be urgent negotiations between the South African Government and the newly independent Government to achieve a solution that satisfies the people of Namibia as a whole.

Mr. Temple-Morris

The right hon. Gentleman may know that I am no supporter of South Africa in its attitude towards Namibia, but at the same time it must be recorded as a fact—I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he agrees with me—that the South Africans have conceded a great deal on Namibia since their original Turnhalle position. Does he agree that the pressure must now be put on SWAPO? How does he propose, together with his four allies, to exercise that pressure?

Dr. Owen

We have made progress. It is important to record in the House that the South African Government have accepted the proposals that have been put forward. We have had a setback since the Cassinga raid. The five frontline Presidents have exerted considerable powers of persuasion over SWAPO in Luanda. Many other African countries believe that the Five's initiative offers a basis for bringing Namibia to independence. It is not so much a matter of bringing pressure on one side or the other. There are a few relatively minor issues still needing clarification. We are trying to achieve clarification in a way that will have the agreement of all parties, so that we can get a resolution through the Security Council.

Mr. Ford

Will my right hon. Friend take note that all the ethnic and political groups inside Namibia would be gravely concerned if the date of independence were postponed by any action of the Western Powers? Will he now put a term upon the SWAPO reply to the Western proposals—some time around mid-July—and encourage people such as Andreas Shipanga, who was recently released from Tanzania after two years' imprisonment without trial and has now formed the SWAPO Democrats and wishes to proceed to a democratic peaceful transition in Namibia?

Dr. Owen

It is extremely important that that date should be maintained. That is why I believe that the Security Council resolution must come in July and no later. The decision of the Tanzanian Government to release some of the SWAPO detainees is important. It is important that they are all released in the various countries in which they are held—South Africa and other countries. It is not for me to choose between the political parties. The hope of the Five is that there should be a free and fair election and that the people of Namibia should decide.

Mr. Michael Morris

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his statement on the furtherance of the date of independence is to be greatly welcomed? Is he further aware that another factor that is worrying all parties in Namibia is whether the elections will be able to take place freely and honestly? Is he able to give any assurance that the five Powers will be able to ensure that that happens and that there will be no intervention from outside forces, from whichever side?

Dr. Owen

It is crucial that the United Nations' military presence should be sufficiently strong to ensure that there is no infiltration from anybody to cause a disruption of the election process, and that the arrangements for security inside the country during that time are satisfactory. As is so often the case, as in Rhodesia, one of the major issues is to try to get a satisfactory arrangement for internal security.

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