The Southern African Development Community said it’s seeking to raise $100 million toward the deployment of an international “neutral force” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the eastern city of Goma was under the control of rebels until last week.
“DRC has already deposited a contribution, and we urge other members to contribute too,” Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete told reporters today in his country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, after SADC leaders held a summit meeting there. He said the group is also open to contributions from the international community.
SADC aims to activate a standby brigade by Dec. 14 that will join the Congo force. It will include units from all nations in the group, according to Kikwete. Tanzania has already committed a battalion to the force, while South Africa has pledged logistical support such as moving troops, he said.
The leaders also discussed the political crisis in Madagascar, urging former President Marc Ravalomanana and current leader Andry Rajoelina not to run for the presidency, according to a statement.
They urged authorities in Madagascar to ensure the presidential election is held as planned on May 8 and that parliamentary elections take place on July 23. The summit urged the transitional government in Madagascar to draft legislation to guarantee privileges for former heads of state before the elections, and repeal laws that exclude some citizens from voting, according to the SADC statement.
The SADC leaders also urged members to contribute to a $10 million fund to support the electoral process in Madagascar.
On Zimbabwe, SADC called for the completion of the process to draft a new constitution, and conduct a referendum on the document before elections next year.
Those attending the summit include the current SADC chairman, President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, along with South African President Jacob Zuma, President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is chairman of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, also attended to brief SADC on what the conference has done so far to try to resolve the crisis in Congo.
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