8 February 2013

Southern Africa: SADC Prepares Summit On Congolese Situation

Maputo — The appearance of yet another rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) demonstrates just how complex a problem the DRC poses to SADC (Southern African Development Community), the SADC Executive Secretary, Tomas Salomao, declared in Maputo on Friday.

Speaking to reporters while a meeting of the SADC Council of Ministers got under way, in advance of a heads of state summit scheduled for later on Friday, Salomao said that there were already 28 “forces regarded as negative” in the DRC, “and the emergence of one more rebel movement only shows that the situation is difficult”.

The new group calls itself the Union of Revolutionary Forces of the Congo (RFRC) and has declared that it wishes to overthrow President Joseph Kabila. The group says it is a coalition of various Congolese forces, and is based in Bukavu, in South Kivu province.

The RFRC has sprung up at a time when the Congolese government is trying to end the rebellion by the M23 movement in the east of the country. The government and the M23 reached a preliminary deal on Wednesday in Kampala, under mediation from the Ugandan government.

The current SADC chairperson, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, called the Friday summit with the situation in the DRC as the only point on the agenda. It will give the member countries a chance to discuss the latest developments in Congo, before a SADC report on the matter is sent to United Nations General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon.

A previous SADC summit, held in early December, in Dar es Salaam, decided to provide 4,000 troops for a Neutral International Force (NIF) that will operate in the eastern DRC.

A follow-up summit of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security, on 10-11 January, also in Dar es Salaam, welcomed the pledges made by Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania to contribute to the deployment of NIF and urged other SADC members to make similar pledges.

It is estimated that the NIF was cost the SADC region around 100 million US dollars.

SADC was also concerned that the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) was unable to deal with the problem under the terms of its current mandate. SADC wanted those terms changed so as to give MONUSCO the power to react with force of arms in the event of any attacks.

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