Southern Africa Nations Urge Rwanda to End Support for Rebels

The 15-nation Southern African Development Community will send a delegation to Rwanda to urge the government to end support for a rebel group in Congo, where fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Rwanda must “cease immediately its interference that constitutes a threat to peace and stability not only to the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also to the SADC region,” Executive Director Augusto Salomao said in Maputo, Mozambique, yesterday, after two days of meetings between heads of states of the region. A delegation will be sent to “engage the government of Rwanda with the aim of urging Rwanda to stop military support to the rebels.”

About 470,000 Congolese have fled the eastern part of the nation since April to avoid fighting between rebel forces and the military, the UN said July 27. The battle also threatens mining operations, according to Barclays Plc. North Kivu province is home to the largest tin-ore mine in Congo and has deposits of gold, tungsten and coltan, which is used in laptops and mobile phones.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kampala, Uganda, last week after his country alleged that Rwanda supported an ethnic Tutsi-led rebellion in eastern Congo. The talks ended without a decision.

Rebel Leader

Fighting resumed in Congo’s two eastern Kivu provinces in April when M23, a group of former rebels headed by General Bosco Ntaganda, deserted the army. Ntaganda is wanted by the Hague-based ICC for allegedly recruiting child soldiers.

SADC will also request humanitarian aid from international agencies to help those displaced in eastern Congo, Salomao said.

The regional group held its annual meetings in Maputo this year, where they also discussed the political situation in Zimbabwe and Madagascar. Malawi’s President Joyce Banda was elected next chairwoman of SADC and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete was chosen as head of the Troika, which deals with security matters in the region, Salomao said.

SADC urged Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to speed up the writing of a new constitution that will allow the country to hold elections, Salomao said.

The region’s finance ministers approved creation of an infrastructure fund with $1.2 billion of initial capital, Salomao said. The region will also have a grain deficit of about 4.5 million tons this year and will need aid to prevent the shortage from worsening, he said.

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