Southern African News Features                                           SANF 09 No 22, September 2009
DRC pays tribute to SADC for its unwavering support
by Juakali Kambale

The Democratic Republic of Congo has paid tribute to the Southern African Development Community for the unanimous support rendered to it 11 years ago when some neighbouring countries tried to invade.

DRC President Joseph Kabila made the remarks at the 29th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in Kinshasa.

Kabila told the Summit, which opened 7 September, that DRC is now committed to addressing its internal problems as evidenced by the trust shown by SADC in hosting this year’s summit in Kinshasa.

"We are proud and grateful to welcome in this country such distinguished guests. It is an evidence of the effectiveness of the restoration of peace and security in our country," President Kabila said.

The two-day summit attended by all SADC Member States also witnessed the hand-over and take-over of the rotating SADC chair from South African President Jacob Zuma to President Kabila.

Kabila urged the region to collectively address the socio-economic and political challenges affecting southern Africa.

This includes the impact of the global financial crisis, climate change, intra-regional trade, customs barriers and the political instability in Madagascar.

Madagascar slid into a political turmoil in March after opposition leader Andry Rajoelina seized power from President Marc Ravalomanana in a public demonstration backed by the military.

Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano is now mediating in the peace talks sponsored by SADC as the region seeks an urgent solution to bring stability to the island nation.

With regard to the Zimbabwe situation, President Kabila said the political leaders of Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations should continue to work together and implement the power sharing deal signed last September.

DRC is hosting the SADC Summit for the first time.

The Summit held at African Union City built in 1967 is also a major event given the political situation in the country that has been characterized by almost 20 years of social disturbances and instability.

In his speech, South African President Zuma praised the DRC for hosting the summit "despite the enormous challenges facing this country, related to reconciliation and reconstruction of one of the largest countries of our continent."

Meanwhile, locals have been challenged to familiarize themselves with SADC since few of them have a deeper understanding of issues in the region.

DRC Ambassador to South Africa Pene Mboko says lack of information is limiting the amount of knowledge the Francophone country has on SADC.

SADC is mainly made up of Anglophone countries.

DRC joined SADC in 1997 when the country was facing unrest, particularly in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Eastern DRC.

Fighting, which directly involved eight African countries broke out in August 1998.

The then DRC president, the late Laurent Kabila, sought help from fellow SADC Member States who responded positively by sending in troops which prevented the rebel offensive on Kinshasa.

The region later took part in a series of talks that sought to restore peace in DRC. This led to the historic talks held in Sun City, South Africa that saw a deal being struck to end the war in the DRC. Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region.

This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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