The first ever joint summit between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Pretoria, South Africa has agreed that DR Congo’s M23 movement must renounce the rebellion before signing the Kampala truce agreement.
Speaking at Chileka Airport in Blantyre after landing from the summit, SADC chair President Joyce Banda said the SADC and ICGLR said the 11 issues agreed upon by the M23 group and the Kinshasa administration, under the Kampala Dialogue, would only be signed if the former renounced the rebellion.
Presidents Banda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who co-chaired the summit in their respective capacities as chairpersons of SADC and ICGLR and SADC, urged both parties to the conflict to embrace stability.
“DR Congo Government and the M23 rebels should go back to the negotiating table for the sake of peace and stability in the country,” the two leaders said in a joint statement released after the summit.
African leaders went into talks on Monday to discuss the possibility of reinforcing a UN special brigade deployed in the DRC, as rebels there are forced onto the back foot.
Banda meanwhile urged the DRC government to consider returning to negotiations with the rebels “for the sake of peace in the DRC” as “military intervention alone is not enough”.
The summit also agreed to a joint effort on evaluating and monitoring the security situation in DRC.
A communiqué issued at the end of the Summit read that the two secretariats will “harmonise and synergise the work of ICGLR and SADC in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.”
This cooperation will see the two blocs hold an annual summit of the heads of state after a technical committee establishes a bi-annual meeting of the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence.
The summit, which brings together the two regional blocs for the first time, was held in the midst of renewed fighting between government-aligned troops and the M23 movement, barely hours after the rebels announced a ceasefire to facilitate the Kampala peace talks.
M23 is a rebel armed movement based in eastern DRC, mainly operating in North Kivu where it launched its operations in April 2012. The host, South African President Jacob Zuma asked leaders of the member states of ICGLR and SAADC to work together in ensuring the instruments for regional cooperation are fully implemented. He also said balanced and equitable regional integration was only possible in a peaceful and stable environment.
The Summit was also attended by Presidents Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, Prime Minister of Lesotho Tom Thabane, President Joseph Kabila of DR Congo and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and delegations from ten other member states of ICGLR AND SADC.
The last SADC meeting in September in Windhoek, Namibia on the situation in DRC called for urgent joint talks between the southern Africa bloc and Grate Lakes, in appreciation of the complex nature of the Congolese conflict which has spilled over to neighbouring countries.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :