President Hage Geingob, who serves as the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation has requested that SADC member countries work together with East African Community (EAC) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to support the disturbing situation in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Geingob officially opened the SADC extraordinary organ troika summit which concluded in Windhoek yesterday.
“With the DRC accession to membership of the East African Community (EAC), and the initiatives being spearheaded by President Lourenco of the Republic of Angola, there is a need for SADC to work together with the EAC and other RECs, in order to better coordinate our efforts, in support of the Government and People of the DRC. We will, therefore, receive a briefing from our Defence Chiefs following the field assessment that they undertook in March 2023 to the eastern DRC. The outcome of the assessment will help us better understand the current situation, and will guide our interventions, moving forward,” he said.
M23 rebels and illegal armed groups have sown chaos in the eastern edge of the DRC for over a year, but what they hope to achieve remains unclear.
Since late 2021, the group has seized swathes of territory in North Kivu province and neared the regional hub of Goma, prompting hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
The M23, a Tutsi-led group whose name stands for the “March 23 Movement” re-emerged from dormancy in November 2021, accusing the DRC of ignoring a promise to integrate its fighters into the army.
Geingob added that the values outlined in the SADC treaty, which was signed in Windhoek, in August 1992, serve as the foundation for SADC’s ongoing efforts to advance and protect peace, security, and stability in the sub-region.
“These principles inspired the development of the Foundation Pillar of the 2020-2030 RISDP, namely Peace, Security, and Good Governance, which has amongst others, the Management of Terrorism Project, as well as the Project on Strengthening the Capacity of SADC Standby Force for Peace Support (PSO) and Humanitarian Operations,” he said.
Also speaking at the summit, SADC Executive Secretary, Elias Magosi, said the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation is one of the most crucial structures of SADC, mandated to promote peace and security in the region, in recognition of the fundamental importance of peace and security to our drive towards regional cooperation, integration and socio-economic development.
“Through the relentless work of the Organ, the SADC region continues to be a beacon of peace and stability, notwithstanding the isolated security challenges in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Mozambique, which the relevant structures of SADC are actively addressing,” said Magosi
He added that it is difficult for the DRC to carry out its development agenda for the benefit of its citizens because of the hostilities and attacks committed by illegal armed groups in the Eastern DRC against innocent civilians and government security forces. The acts of hostilities and attacks by illegal armed groups against Government Security Forces and innocent civilians in the Eastern DRC undermine the sovereignty and integrity of the DRC and make it difficult for the DRC to pursue its developmental agenda for the benefit of its citizens, he added.
“This calls for immediate collective action in support of the DRC to restore peace and security in the eastern part, particularly at this critical time when the DRC is preparing for national elections scheduled to be held in December this year,” Magosi concluded.