The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is ready to address the security challenges and changing dynamics in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibian president Hage Geingob has said.
Geingob, the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, said this at the official opening of the Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Troika plus Force Intervention Brigade and Troop Contributing Countries in Windhoek yesterday.
The summit, which was attended by the heads of state and government of the SADC Organ Troika, aimed at considering the current security situation in the eastern DRC, following the SADC field assessment mission to the region in March.
“We stand ready, as a region, to address the changing dynamics in eastern DRC, mainly because of the resurgence of the M23 since last year,” Geingob said, adding that the proliferation of illegal armed groups, some of which launch attacks against civilians, state security agencies and public infrastructure from neighbouring countries.
“Our Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) has been deployed in eastern DRC as part of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to secure that part of the country,” he said.
Geingob said SADC must collaborate with the East African Community (EAC) and other regional economic blocs to improve coordination efforts in support 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,” Geingob added.
He said the outcome of the assessment would help them understand the current situation and guide their interventions.
Geingob added that SADC must concentrate on consolidating the gains it has made through the FIB since March, which includes eradicating the illegal armed groups and securing the territorial integrity and future of the DRC.
Speaking at the same summit, Elias Magosi, the executive secretary of SADC, said the organisation had noted the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Eastern DRC after the invasion of the M23 rebellion and illegal armed groups.
Magosi said these armed groups intensified their acts of violence and increased their activities leading to the displacement of populations, particularly in north and south Kivu.
“The acts of hostility and attacks by illegal armed groups against government security forces and innocent civilians in the eastern DRC undermines the sovereignty and integrity of the DRC,” Magosi said, making it difficult for the country to pursue its development agenda.
“This calls for immediate collective action in support of the DRC to restore peace and security in the eastern DRC, particularly at this time the DRC is preparing for national elections scheduled to take place in December this year,” Magosi said.
The extraordinary summit will also consider preparations for the tripartite summit of SADC, the East African Community and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
This will be done with the support of the United Nations and the African Union, as agreed by the last organ troika summit.
It is proposed that the tripartite summit should become a quadripartite summit to accommodate the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).