First SADC-Great Lakes summit demands M23 surrender

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta being received by his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma, upon arrival at the Oliver Tambo Building in Pretoria for the joint SADC/ICGLR Summit. PHOTO | PSCU 

In one early sign of a positive outcome from the joint talks between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in

Pretoria, the summit agreed that DR Congo's M23 movement must renounce the rebellion before signing the Kampala truce agreement.

SADC and ICGLR said the 11 issues agreed upon by the M23 group and the Kinshasa administration, under the Kampala Dialogue, would only be signed if the former renounced the rebellion.

Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Joyce Banda of Malawi, who co-chaired the summit in their respective capacities as chairpersons of ICGLR and SADC, urged both parties to the conflict to embrace stability.

“DR Congo Government and the M23 rebels should go back to the negotiating table for the sake of peace and stability in the country,” the two leaders said in a joint statement.

The summit also agreed to a joint effort on evaluating and monitoring the security situation in DRC.

A communiqué read that the two secretariats will "harmonise and synergise the work of ICGLR and SADC in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework."

This cooperation will see the two blocs hold an annual summit of the heads of state after a technical committee establishes a bi-annual meeting of the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence.

The summit, which brings together the two regional blocs for the first time, was held in the midst of renewed fighting between government-aligned troops and the M23 movement, barely hours after the rebels announced a ceasefire to facilitate the Kampala peace talks.

M23 is a rebel armed movement based in eastern DRC, mainly operating in North Kivu where it launched its operations in April 2012.

The last SADC meeting in September in Windhoek, Namibia on the situation in DRC called for urgent joint talks between the southern Africa bloc and Grate Lakes, in appreciation of the complex nature of the Congolese conflict which has spilled over to neighbouring countries.

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