Malawian President Joyce Banda returned home from Windhoek, Namibia, on Thursday, announcing that she and President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia will meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in New York to seriously review the UN peacekeeping role in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The President flew to Windhoek to attend an extraordinary meeting of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
She attended the meeting on Wednesday in her capacity as SADC Chairperson. Namibia took over leadership of the SADC Troika for the Organ during the last SADC summit held in Lilongwe in August.
The Organ’s primary objective is to consolidate peace and stability in the SADC region, with the realization that peace and security are the pre-conditions for socio-economic development and prosperity for the people.
The Windhoek meeting was aimed at finding a lasting solution to the DRC conflict. M23 rebels in DRC are involved in an 18-month rebellion, which has brought legal mineral trade to a virtual halt in eastern Congo, with only illicit rebel-backed traders able to operate in the region.
According to President Banda, also on agenda was the political situation in Madagascar where efforts are being made to hold elections after years of political stalemate.
On the conflict in the DRC, President Banda briefed the media that the meeting agreed to fast-track facilitating round-table negotiations between the Government of DRC and the rebels.
“The meeting also appointed President Pohamba and me to meet the UN General Secretary (Ban Ki Moon) this month in New York to review the UN peace-keeping role in the DRC. We felt that during the 15-year presence of the UN peacekeeping force in the DRC has not yielded the much desired results,” said the Head of State.
Last week, East Africa regional leaders, including presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Joseph Kabila of DRC, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Salva Kiir of South Sudan, ordered the immediate resumption of stalled talks at an emergency summit in Kampala called by President Yoweri Museveni. The leaders set a deadline of 14 days for the two sides to complete the talks.
The summit was called after Rwanda accused Congolese troops of shelling its territory and threatened retaliatory measures against Congo.
The Tutsi-dominated government in Kigali has been accused of backing the M23, whose leaders come from the same ethnic group. Rwanda has denied the accusations.
On the political stalemate in Madagascar, the SADC Chair said it was “pleasing” that both President Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, who intended to field his wife as presidential candidate, had agreed to step aside in respect of a court order that barred them from standing.
“We have agreed that elections be held on October 25, 2013 and that SADC will have to ensure that a strong observer mission is deployed much, much earlier to ensure a smooth electoral process,” said President Banda.
Apart from President Banda and the host, Pohamba, four other Heads of State and Government, including Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane and South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane who represented President Jacob Zuma, were in attendance.
The SADC’s mediator on Madagascar and former Mozambican President, Joachim Chissano, also attended.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :