Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states have resolved to join forces with the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) to uproot M-23 and other insurgents in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
These two Africa’s regional blocs have signalled their willingness to engage in a constructive partneship, in the quest for long lasting peace in DRC, a fragile country that has been awash with weapons and blood, since 1997.
This follows a meeting in Windhoek, Namibia on May 8th by SADC heads of state, where the worrying security situation in Eastern DRC region of North Kivu was the center of discussion.
It was therefore agreed, that there be a concurrent troop deployment by the two blocs to uproot M-23 rebels and other insurgents in DRC, an indicator that the EACRF and SADC stand by force will work together in trying to stamp out rebel elements.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi’s office on Monday released a statement, saying regional blocs in Africa are closely monitoring the deteriorating security situation in his country, and will work in a coordinated effort to bolster the capabilities of the Congolese army to defend the country.
“SADC has launched processes for the convening of a Tripartite Summit of the East African Community (EAC), the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and SADC plus the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), with the participation of the African Union and the United Nations in order to consider a coordinated approach in support of the DRC,” the Congolese presidency said.
The EACRF standby force was deployed to DRC in November last year, but has since desisted from active combat against M-23, saying this will only happen if the insurgents refuse to withdraw peacefully from the areas they captured. However, Kinshasa wants a forceful approach against the rebels.
According to the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P), more than 120 militias and armed groups actively operate in the eastern provinces of DRC, many of whom regularly perpetrate widespread violations and abuses that may amount to atrocity crimes
In a meeting held by the Signatory Countries of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC held in Bujumbura, Burundi, on May 6th, delegates condemned the acts of brutality and crimes against humanity by the M-23 in stronger terms.
They also labelled other armed groups like the FLDR, Allied Democratic Forces, Codeco, Mai-Mai, RED Tabara and the MTM as unwelcome in the country and urged them to cease hostilities unconditionally and without any slightest hesitation.
The meeting was embraced by all DRC’s neighbours including Kenya, representatives from the UN including Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and officials from the EAC and SADC, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
DR Congo has never experienced total peace since the overthrow of long time dictator Mobutu SeseSeko in 1997. After his ouster, the country descended into chaos, with organized criminal groups, rebel movements, some allegedly supported by foreign elements to exploit the country’s vast natural resources.
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