Wednesday, 29 August 2012

SADC meets Kagame over conflict in eastern DR Congo

Rwandan president Paul Kagame (R) shakes hands with visiting Mozambican president Armando Emilio Guebuza, after their meeting in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, Aug. 28, 2012. President Guebuza, as an envoy of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), met President Kagame over security issues in eastern DR Congo. (Xinhua/ Yuan Liang)
Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Chairperson of Southern African Development Community (SADC) Armando Emilio Guebuza, who is also the current Mozambican President, on Tuesday met with his Rwandan counterpart, President Paul Kagame, and discussed details of how the ongoing crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) can be solved.

The meeting of the two Heads of States, held in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, comes after the 32nd SADC Summit mandated President Guebuza to undertake a mission to Rwanda to engage the Rwandan government "to stop military support to armed rebels in the DRC, the so-called M23." The presidents agreed on use of dialogue to resolve the conflict.

Rwanda has strenuously denied any links with the rebels, allegations which were first made by a UN Group of Experts on the Congo. Addressing the press after the meeting, the Executive Secretary of SADC Tomas Salamao said President Guebuza conveyed the message from SADC that the most important thing is to ensure SADC member states and member states from the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) work together to address and solve the problem in eastern DRC based on dialogues and mutual understanding of the problem on the ground. "The major conclusion from the two Heads of States is paramount, critical and fundamental to work together at a regional level, SADC and ICGLR and at a bilateral level between Rwanda and DRC," he added.

Although SADC did not consult Rwanda before the Maputo Summit, Salamao said that the Summit's accusations against Rwanda were based on several experts' reports."We saw the reaction of Rwanda but our position was based on the assessment made by a team of experts who went to DRC, Burundi and Rwanda. They interacted with Rwanda and they presented a report, to heads of states and governments," he said.

Rwanda submitted to the UN Sanctions Committee its response to the allegations by the Group of Experts (GoE) on the Congo weeks after the highly contentious addendum was published without Rwanda's input. Salamao pointed out that following the meeting of presidents Guebuza and Kagame, SADC took note of the discussions and may consider sitting and discussing more details if necessary. At the meeting, Rwanda's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mary Baine refuted claims that the recent declaration by SADC requesting Rwanda to stop supporting the M23 may have created tension between Rwanda and the Southern Africa bloc.

SADC is composed of 15 countries, namely Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Seychelles. Others are South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Five of them, namely Angola, DRC, Tanzania and Zambia, are part of another regional grouping, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), which is composed of eleven countries, including Rwanda. The ICGLR has taken steps to help resolve the crisis, with five high-profile meetings, including two for Heads of State and Government, resulting in a plan to deploy a neutral African force to help pacify eastern DRC. The M23 rebels, who have seized several strategic towns and villages in the North Kivu province, have offered peace talks but Kinshasa has ruled out such talks.

From  Senegal the country`s  President Macky Sall has summoned Gambia's ambassador after learning that two of its nationals were executed in the neighboring country, officials said Wednesday.

Gambia confirmed Monday the execution of nine prisoners on death row, including two Senegalese citizens, in defiance of an international outcry. In response, Senegal planned a demonstration in its capital Dakar on Wednesday to vent its anger and appeal to the Gambian government to scrap the planned execution of another 38 dead-row inmates, including a third Senegalese citizen.

The episode might sour ties between the two West African neighbors, with official sources in Banjul, capital of Gambia, dropping hints that  the Senegalese authorities are likely to give persona non grata to the Gambia's ambassador to Dakar. Sall made his first official trip to Banjul this year in an effort to garner Gambia's support to quell social unrest in the southern Senegalese region of Cassamance which has been fighting for independence for decades.

Gambia's interior ministry on Monday confirmed the execution of nine prisoners being held on death row after the country's president vowed to carry out all death sentences by mid-September to curb crimes and terrorism looming as a threat to the west African nation. The ministry said in a statement that the nine people were executed by firing squad on Sunday, Aug. 26, after they were sentenced to death and their appeals exhausted. The Gambian President Yahya Jammeh said last week that his government intends to resort to death penalty to fight against organized crimes and terrorism threats.  "All forms of punishments that are stipulated by law will be maintained in the country so that criminals can get what they deserve. Those who kill should also be killed," he said. "My government will not allow that 99 percent of the population is threatened by a small percentage of criminals," Jammeh declared. (Xinhua)

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