6 December 2012

Southern Africa: Tanzania Hosts SADC Emergency Meeting

THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) is expected to hold an emergency meeting in Dar es Salaam starting on Friday to discuss political and security situations in Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some 14 Heads of State from the regional block are expected to attend the two-day meeting which will be preceded by the SADC's political, defence and security organ (Troika) which is currently chaired by President Jakaya Kikwete.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe, told a news conference in Dar es Salaam that the emergency meeting will be chaired by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, the current chair of the community.

"Among other things, SADC member states are expected to make pledges on support towards an international neutral force to fight negative forces in the DRC, including the M23 rebels," Mr Membe said. Tanzania has already pledged to provide one battalion of 800 troops to the peacekeeping mission especially in the eastern parts of the war-ravaged country.

SADC and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) have been trying towards providing solutions for the crisis in DRC. "The emergency meeting will also go through resolutions made by the fifth emergency meeting of the ICGLR that was held on November 24, this year, in Kampala, Uganda, to identify areas of cooperation in solving the crisis," he said.

A political deadlock in Madagascar in which the reigning President Andry Rajoelina is blocking former President Marc Ravalomanana, who was ousted in a coup in 2009, is also among issues to be discussed during the meeting. Former Mozambican President, Mr Joaquim Chissano, who has been mediating the conflict, presented a report to the Chair of Troika, Mr Kikwete, on November 30, this year and the report will be discussed during the meeting.

And as Zimbabwe gears for a referendum on the new constitution and an election next year, the emergency meeting is expected to discuss various issues that may delay the referendum and eventually the election.

Contested issues of the draft constitution include dual citizenship, election of governors and provincial officials by the public rather than appointment by the president. Separation of powers between the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecution are also among issues that are being contested by the ZANU-PF.

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