12 January 2013

Southern Africa: SADC Urged to Commit to DRC Force

THE Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Troika organ on politics, defence and security has urged member states that have not committed to deploying troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo mission to do so as a matter of urgency.

In a communiqué that was released on Friday after the Troika meeting in Dar es Salaam, SADC welcomed pledges made by Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania for committing to the deployment of the Neutral International Force (NIF). President Jakaya Kikwete said during a question and answer session with journalists that it was too early to say how many troops each country would provide and what duties they will carry out there.

President Kikwete who is also the Chairman of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation said that what was important at the moment was that more countries are discussing the issue of deployment. Responding to a question on whether the deployment would derail the ongoing negotiations taking place in Kampala, President Kikwete said that there was no conflict, as the decision for deployment actually came from the Great Lakes Region meeting that was held in Kampala at the end of last year.

He said that it was encouraging that SADC supported the deployment of troops to the DRC and that there should not be any worries as the NIF has specific assignments. Reading the communiqué, the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Tomaso Salmao, said that the Summit welcomed the UN support for the deployment of the NIF through the proposed UN Framework Concept for an intervention Brigade in the eastern DRC and expressed the readiness to work with UN.

Dr Salmao said that the meeting noted with appreciation the good collaboration between SADC and the ICGLR on the developments in the eastern DRC. On Madagascar, he said that the meeting received a briefing from Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina and welcomed the developments in that country. "In particular on the commitment to ensure that the roadmap is implemented to the letter and spirit in order to take the country out of the crisis," the communiqué read in part.

The communiqué said the summit re-emphasized that the roadmap remained the only viable mechanism for ending the crisis in Madagascar and that the summit would continue to be seized with the developments in Madagascar. On Zimbabwe, the summit urged the political stakeholders in the country to expedite the finalisation of the constitutional making progress on the outstanding issues in order to pave the way for peaceful, credible, free and fair elections in the country.

The two-day summit was attended by President Armando Emilio Guebuza of Mozambique, President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and host President Kikwete.

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