THE summit of the SADC Troika on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation, in Dar es Salaam over the weekend again put the political developments in Madagascar in the limelight, with yet fresh questions as to whether the General Elections in May would open a new chapter for the country.
President Jakaya Kikwete, who is head of the SADC Troika on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation chaired the Summit over the weekend. The Madagascan authorities have announced that presidential elections will be held in May and parliamentary elections in July.
The implementation of a road map agreed by all the main Madagascan political forces in September 2011 has been made difficult by the threats issued by the Rajoelina regime that the deposed president, Marc Ravalomanana, will be arrested if he returns to the country.
In order to break the impasse, Ravalomanana has announced that he will not be a candidate in the forthcoming elections. But SADC hopes to persuade both Rajoelina and Ravalomanana to stand down.
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, who is the current chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (the deputy chairperson), and Jacob Zuma of South Africa (the outgoing chairperson) also attended.
Addressing the opening session of the meeting for ministers during the week, Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said the summit is urgent "due to the dynamic nature of the crises we face in Madagascar, the DRC and Zimbabwe". According to the programme for the summit, the man who seized power in Madagascar in 2009, Andry Rajoelina, addressed the SADC leaders about the situation on the island on Friday morning.
Since the 2009 coup, Madagascar has been suspended from membership of both SADC and the African Union, pending the restoration of constitutional order. The Madagascan authorities have announced that presidential elections will be held in May and parliamentary elections in July. The implementation of a road map agreed by all the main Madagascan political forces in September 2011 has been made difficult by the threats issued by the Rajoelina regime that the deposed president, Marc Ravalomanana, will be arrested if he returns to the country.
In order to break the impasse, Ravalomanana has announced that he will not be a candidate in the forthcoming elections. But SADC hopes to persuade both Rajoelina and Ravalomanana to stand down. As for Zimbabwe, SADC's concern is that free and credible elections should be held later this year. The elections are now in doubt because one of the pre-conditions for holding them, a new constitution, is still not in place.
Negotiators from the three main political parties (President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC) produced a draft constitution last year. To the anger of the MDC, ZANU-PF has tried to introduce last minute amendments to the draft, making it quite impossible to hold a referendum on the constitution in October, as had initially been planned.
Mugabe has recently threatened that elections will be held anyway, on the basis of the old constitution, a position unacceptable to the MDC. SADC is also seriously concerned at the conflict in the eastern DRC, pitting the M23 rebel movement against the government of President Joseph Kabila. At its annual heads of state summit held in Maputo in August, SADC blamed Rwanda for the conflict, and demanded that Rwanda immediately ease its support for the M23.
Guebuza, in his first mission as SADC chairperson, carried this message personally to Rwandan President Paul Kagame later in August. International anger has obliged the United Nations to impose sanctions against the M23. These are having some effect, in that the M23 has declared a unilateral ceasefire, ahead of a second round of negotiations with the Congolese government in Kampala.
The M23's Executive Secretary and chief negotiator, Francois Rucogoza, told reporters that his movement would continue with the peace talks, regardless of whether Kabila's government also signed the ceasefire. Summit considered the political and security situation in the region, in particular the latest developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Madagascar and the Republic of Zimbabwe.
In the previous Summit in early December 2012, these were the resolutions:
Summit:(i) reaffirmed the indivisibility and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo; (ii) expressed deep concern regarding the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern DRC due to the prevailing situation; (iii) strongly condemned the M23 and all its attacks on the civilian population, United Nations Peacekeepers and humanitarian actors, as well as its abuses of human rights, including summary executions, sexual and gender based violence;
(iv) affirmed that SADC, as a block will deploy the SADC Standby Force in the Eastern DRC under the auspices of the Neutral International Force(NIF) (v) welcomed the decision of the ICGLR to mandate the United Republic of Tanzania to appoint a Force Commander for the NIF to be deployed in the Eastern DRC; Tanzania's Director of Information Department (MAELEZO), Mr Assah Mwambene at the SADC Summit in Dar es salaam with another SADC official.
(vi) mandated the SADC Interstate Politics and Diplomacy Committee (ISPDC) and the SADC Secretariat to work together with the ICGLR to engage the African Union Peace and the United Nations Security Council for support to the deployment and sustenance; (vi) urged UN to change MONUSCO mandate to the United Nations Chapter VII; (vii) commended the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of South Africa for pledging one battalion and logistics support for the NIF respectively; and (viii) commended the DRC for contributing funds for the deployment of the NIF. On Madagascar:Summit commended:
(i) His Excellency Joachim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique and the SADC Mediator on the political conflict in Madagascar for his efforts towards restoring the constitutional normalcy in the country; (ii) His Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and the Outgoing Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation for his contribution in resolving the crisis in the country; (
iii) His Excellency James Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles for his contribution in assisting the Malagasy towards finding a lasting solution to the political situation in their country. 8.2 Summit endorsed the report of the SADC Mediator and: (i) urged the Malagasy political stakeholders to fully implement the Madagascar Roadmap in the letter and spirit; (ii) urged that the dates of 8 May 2013 for Presidential Elections and 25 July 2013 for Parliamentary Elections be respected by all parties concerned;
(iii) Summit took note of, and undertook to give serious consideration to the request to SADC to contribute 10 million U$ to the Malagasy elections of 2013. In this regard, the Summit urged SADC Member States to make timely voluntary contributions. Summit also directed the Secretariat to mobilise financial and logistical support from the international community. 8.3 Summit reiterated its decision that former President Mr. Marc Ravalomanana should return to Madagascar unconditionally. 8.4 Summit reemphasized that the two candidates, Mr Marc Ravalomanana and Mr. Andry Rajoelina, should be persuaded not to stand in the forthcoming general elections as a way forward towards resolving this crisis.
8.5 Summit reiterated its position that the Amnesty Law be implemented in order to create conducive conditions for the return of the political exiles including Mr. Ravalomanana. 8.6 Summit urged the political stakeholders to develop legislation before the May 2013 elections that would guarantee the privileges of the former Heads of State. 8.7 Summit urged the Transitional Government to repeal the legislations intended to exclude its citizens from participating in the coming elections.