JB calls for lasting solution to DRC crisis

Malawi President Joyce Banda in her capacity as Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has called upon countries in the SADC and Great Lakes regions to work towards finding lasting solution to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) crisis.

Speaking during the opening of the joint summit for SADC and ICGLR Heads of State and Government in Pretoria, South Africa, President Banda said DRC is in great crisis which needs the intervention of the member states of the two bodies.

DRC government army has been in a fight with the M23 rebels for over 20 months now following disagreements between the two concerned parties.

“The country is in total crisis. I’m confident that through this joint summit, we will be able to find a common solution that will address security and peace in the DRC,” said Dr Banda.

Chairperson of SADC, President Dr Joyce Banda, left, addressing the Summit. pic by Felix Washon. MANA

She emphasized that there was need for measures to be taken by the two bodies if genuine peace and stability is to be restored in DRC, adding that the country needs peace and security.

Banda, therefore, called upon the DRC government and the M23 rebels to consider going back into negotiations of peace deal for the sake of attaining peace, saying the fight was affecting innocent people like women and children.

“Women are being raped and dying. Children are also dying. The country is also lacking resources because of the fight. This is a bad development and something needs to be done,” she said.

Banda said Malawi, as a country, fully supports the SADC’s intervention of sending peace keeping troops to the eastern DRC, describing it as a positive move towards achieving peace and stability in the country.

Also speaking during the same summit, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa concurred with President Banda, saying continued political instability in the Great Lakes region denies the people of the region the ability to fully exploit their economic potential.

He pointed out that the summit should therefore enjoin the two regions to continue doing everything possible that can be done to act together in partnership to respond to the urgent challenges of restoring peace and stability, and accelerating economic development.

President Zuma then called upon the SADC and ICGLR bodies to enter into agreements that should serve as instruments for regional and multilateral cooperation as well as commit themselves to do everything possible to ensure their implementation.

ICGLR chairperson, who is also President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, said his body tried to mediate talks between DRC government and M23 rebels but yielded nothing as the two parties continued fighting despite promising to do something.

“I was asked by President Kabila to do the mediation but it failed because the rebels gave out 21 grievances which they wanted government to change including asking for President Kabila to resign.

“The fight came as a surprise because I advised them to stop fighting because that was not a solution and peace talks had already been conducted. To my surprise, the rebels continued fighting and we really need to do something,” Museveni said.

According to Museveni, the fight is affecting other neighbouring countries like Uganda as 10 people were injured after the rebels attacked them.

Currently, Uganda is housing about 1, 500 Congolese refugees which, he said, has come as a result of the fight.

He then said even though ICGLR had potential to come up with long lasting solution on the conflict, teaming up with SADC was a good idea as it would bring concrete solution.

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