DR Congo

Southern Africa: Southern African leaders concerned at slow pace in DRC

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JOHANNESBURG, 13 December (IRIN) - The Southern African military alliance in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) called at the weekend on all parties to uphold the Lusaka ceasefire agreement and demanded that UN observers be brought in as soon as possible, senior officials told IRIN on Monday.
The latest attempt to get the peace process on track was made at a summit meeting in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, where President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, President Sam Nujoma of Namibia and Angolan Defence Minister Kundy Paihama, met with DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila. The three nations in the alliance have all deployed troops in DRC to back Kabila against Ugandan and Rwandan-backed rebels.

"There have been too many violations of the ceasefire and the allies are concerned about that," Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba told IRIN. "They are also concerned that a mediator acceptable to all parties is found as soon as possible and that we have a new timetable for implementation. It was also emphasised that the political process in the form of a national dialogue within Congo has to move forward."

Meanwhile, Charamba said allied forces hoped to bring relief this week to 700 Zimbabwean soldiers besieged in the town of Ikela, some 1,000 km northeast of the capital Kinshasa. The soldiers have been trapped at the town's airport by Rwandese-backed rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD).

"One thing that should be stressed here is that this is by no means whatsoever an attempt to gain new territory. Our forces have been in Ikela prior to the ceasefire. A military campaign is now underway to relieve them and the word from our commanders on the ground that they should link up with Ikela within a day or two," Charamba said.

Other ceasefire violations which concerned the alliance leaders, were looting in northern DRC by Ugandan-backed forces and "hostile movements" detected in the Mbuji-Mayi region, some 1,000 km southeast of Kinshasa.

[ENDS]

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