6 December 2012

Southern Africa: Zuma Off to Tanzania for Talks On DRC

Photo: GCIS
President Jacob Zuma at an earlier summit.

Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma is to travel to Dar es Salam where regional leaders are expected to hammer out approaches to end the crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation confirmed on Thursday that the DRC situation would top the agenda of the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the regional body SADC. The summit will take place from Friday to Sunday.

Extra Ordinary Summits are called to consider pressing peace and security matters that threaten the region's stability.

Tanzania is the current Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, while South Africa and Namibia complete the Troika of the Organ. Mozambique assumed the position of Chair of SADC in August 2012 and is supported by Angola and Malawi as other members of the SADC Troika.

The DRC was in recent weeks rocked by a rebel insurgency that led to the seizure of the strategically vital eastern city of Goma.

"South Africa is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation on the ground in eastern DRC and the mass displacement of people," International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim told reporters in Pretoria.

He condemned the attack on Goma by the armed groups fighting against the Congolese army.

Pretoria called for a cessation of all hostilities and urged members of the international community and the African Union to assist in finding a solution to the DRC crisis.

Ebrahim would not say what action SADC was expected to take but said that the protection of civilians in DRC was top priority.

The SADC summit is also expected to discuss the political situation in Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

South Africa will be expected to report on the facilitation process in Zimbabwe while the Chair of SADC will report to the summit on the mediation process in Madagascar.

Zimbabwe is expected to hold a referendum on its new constitution in January followed by general elections sometime in March.

SADC this year gave the country's authorities up to June next year to organise free and fair elections.

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