DR Congo Crisis: Zimbabwean troops advance into North Kivu province
20 dec 2012
Zimbabwean troop into North Kivu - Zimbabwean troops, some of them on military tanks, have been advancing progressively into several places in North Kivu province, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), marking the escalation of tension near the border with Rwanda, PANA reported, quoting journalists reporting from that part of Congo.
They said that the movement had affected the recent calm in the area.
Zimbabwean infantry units were reported present in Goma and Bukavu's suburbs (North and South Kivu), according to Rwanda's newspaper online 'igihe.com'.
They said the M23 rebel fighters in North Kivu were readying their weapons to repulse any offensive likely to be launched by a joint Congo regular forces-Zimbabwean troops.
The Zimbabwean movement has come as a surprise since Robert Mugabe's government had previously shown reluctance to deploy its troops to DRC to help drive out M23 rebels from some strategic cities under its control.
Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia mobilized troops in 1998 to help DRC, under Laurent Desire Kabila, beat back armed rebel groups about to overrun Kinshasa, the DRC capital.
Congo-Kinshasa: SADC to Activate Stand-By Force
09 dec 2012
Dar es Salaam — The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has decided to activate its stand-by force and dispatch it to the troubled eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where rebels of the M23 movement are fighting against the Congolese government.
The unit will be under the auspices of the Neutral International force (NIF), and its commander will be appointed by Tanzania.
This decision was taken on Saturday, during an extraordinary one day summit of SADC heads of state and government in Dar es Salaam, chaired by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, in his capacity as the current SADC chairperson.
SADC has about a week to activate its stand-by force, and the entire deployment could cost about 100 million US dollars. Part of this sum has already been made available by the DRC itself. Tanzania and South Africa have promised to send a battalion and logistical support to the NIF.
The idea for such a neutral force, to be placed along the border between the DRC and Rwanda, was backed by the African Union in September, after frustration at the failure of the United Nations force in the region (MONUSCO) to deal with the M23 rebellion.
In SADC’s understanding, MONUSCO has been unable to cope with the problem, and so the summit urged the UN to change the mandate of MONUSCO, granting it the power for direct armed reaction to any attacks.
To date, MONUSCO’s physical presence only exists to guarantee humanitarian activities. Such activities are of dubious value in an area where murder, rape and looting by armed groups are reported every day.
The summit reaffirmed the indivisibility of the DRC, and respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. It expressed deep concern at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the eastern DRC and strongly condemned the M23 for its attacks against civilians, the UN forces and humanitarian agencies.
“We are open to dialogue, but we are also not prepared to continue watching as defenceless people are killed”, said Guebuza at a press conference held immediately after the close of the summit.
He did not specify in what way Mozambique would support the Neutral International Force, but declared that the decision was “important and necessary”. He stressed that other countries will also decide how to support the force, “because the foundations for this have already been laid”.
Guebuza stressed that SADC will work with the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the African Union, and the United Nations itself, in search of support that can ensure success for the activities of the NIF.
The current ICGLR chairperson, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who was invited to take part in the summit, said that the UN force was engaged in nothing more than “military tourism”, since its presence in the DRC had made no difference.