New Era (Windhoek)

Southern Africa: SADC Meets On DRC, Zim

Windhoek — The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Troika on Politics, Defence and Security met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last week Thursday and Friday where they renewed commitments to deploy neutral troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The meeting also reviewed progress on the political situation in Madagascar and urged Zimbabwean political leaders to expedite the process to have free and fair elections in their country sometime this year. President Hifikepunye Pohamba and the Namibian Minister of Defence Nahas Angula attended the meeting, along with President Armando Emilio Guebuza of Mozambique, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and host President Jakaya Kikwete.

In the communiqué issued after the meeting, SADC "welcomed pledges made by Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania for committing to the deployment of the Neutral International Force (NIF)."

Nevertheless President Kikwete said it is too early to say how many troops each country would provide or the nature of duties they would carry out.

The SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Tomaso Salmao, welcomed UN support for the deployment of the NIF through the proposed UN Framework Concept for an intervention brigade in the eastern DRC and expressed readiness to work with the UN.

The meeting noted with appreciation the good collaboration between SADC and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) on the developments in the eastern DRC.

The summit urged Zimbabwe's political leaders "to expedite the finalisation of the constitution-making progress on the outstanding issues in order to pave the way for peaceful, credible, free and fair elections in the country".

Zimbabwe is expected to hold general elections between June and September 2013 and SADC is fully involved to ensure the polls end peacefully.

"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 said on the briefing by President Andry Rajoelina on the situation in Madagascar.

The summit re-emphasised the fact 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 political developments in Madagascar.

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