THE imminent deployment of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) Force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the latest move aimed at restoring elusive peace and security
east of the country. Four heads of state and three representatives met in Windhoek, Namibia on Monday where they approved the deployment within the framework of the SADC Standby Force as a regional response in support of the restive member state.
They met under the aegis of the Extra-Ordinary Summit of Organ Troika, Plus SADC Troika and Force Intervention Brigade Troop Contributing Countries Heads of State and Government. The summit noted with “great concern” the unstable and deteriorating security situation prevailing in the eastern DRC and reiterated its condemnation of the upsurge of conflicts and activities of armed groups, including the resurgence of M23 rebels.
The resurgence is despite a ceasefire agreed in March. In Windhoek, leaders observed a minute of silence and expressed its condolences to the government and the people of the DRC for the loss of lives during the armed conflict. “Summit reiterated its call for immediate cessation of hostilities by all Armed Groups and unconditional withdrawal from the current occupied areas,” read a communiqué issued after the meeting.The leaders of the bloc called for immediate support to the DRC to address the prevailing security situation in the resources-rich east, ahead of the national elections scheduled to be held in December 2023.
Incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, is to seek re-election. The summit approved a SADC Common Position to have a more coordinated approach, given the multiple deployments under multilateral and bilateral arrangements in the eastern DRC.
Leaders urged the DRC to put in place the necessary conditions and measures for effective coordination among sub-regional forces and bilateral partners operating in the DRC. The African Union (AU) is planning a summit of the quadripartite of SADC, East African Community (EAC) , International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS) for the coordination and harmonisation of interventions of actors in the DRC. The country of an estimated 97 million people is among the continent’s largest countries by size and population as well as being one of its most unstable.
– CAJ News