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29 September 2005 Edition

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'IRA has set example to rest of world' -- Mbeki

IRA Initiative

The South African President has compared the latest IRA move to that of South Africans in the early 1990s in its struggle for democracy

South African President Thabo Mbeki welcomed the statement by the IRA. "Today's announcement that the IRA has given up the use of armed resistance to achieve its aims can be rated as one of the most encouraging events in decades of protracted struggle in Northern Ireland," he said

Mbeki continued: "By renouncing violence, committing itself to handing in its arms and seeking political means to realise its aspirations, the IRA has clearly chosen the peace path. In this it has set an example to the rest of humankind, in much the same way that South Africans chose such a course, despite years of conflict and racism, in the early 1990s leading to the settlement of 1994 and the advent of democratic life in our country.

"Gerry Adams personally contacted and briefed me about this encouraging event and outlined what can only be viewed as a realistic path to peaceful resolution of the impasse, given the will on all sides to make peace work. We encourage all concerned in every way possible to hold fast to this historic decision and to appreciate that there is every reason why any remaining forces that would favour violence, from any quarter, should be opposed.

"The Government and people of South Africa will offer their warmest congratulations to all those concerned in this brave and far-sighted decision. As President, I would add my personal congratulations. One can now be more optimistic than ever that the process to peace in the lovely island of Ireland will be steady and successful.

In a separate statement the African National Congress welcomed "the announcement by the Irish Republican Army of the end of its armed campaign and its intention to pursue its objectives through peaceful democratic means".

"This announcement marks an important step forward in the ongoing struggle to achieve a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the conflict within the context of the Good Friday agreement.

"The ANC commends the IRA for demonstrating resolve and leadership at an important historical moment. The ANC further urges all parties in Northern Ireland, together with the Irish and British Governments, to seize this opportunity to move forward with the Peace Process."

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