By CHILA NAMAIKO –
REGIONAL Heads of State and Government have called on political parties and civil society in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to exercise restraint to ensure Sunday elections take place in a peaceful environment.
The regional leaders have reiterated their commitment and availability to support DRC as its citizens go to presidential, legislative and provincial polls which were postponed from December 23 to 30, this year.
This is according to the final declaration of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit of Heads of States held in Congo Brazzaville on Wednesday.
President Edgar Lungu, who is SADC Organ on Peace Security and Defence chairperson, attended the ICGLR and SADC emergency mini-summit.
The heads of state also decided to send a delegation of foreign affairs ministers of Congo Brazzaville (representing the ICGLR) and Zambia’s Joseph Malanji (representing SADC) to Kinshasa to deliver a message to DRC’s President Joseph Kabila on the outcome of the meeting.
The meeting was held at the invitation of host President Denis Sassou N’guesso, who is current chairperson of ICGLR, and Namibian President Hage Geingob, the current chairperson of SADC.
Others in attendance were President of Angola Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco and President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi of Botswana attended the summit.
The leaders raised their deep concerns about acts of violence that occurred during the electoral campaign in some localities in DRC which could compromise the conducive environment needed for the holding of the elections.
They deplored the destruction of some of the electoral materials on December 13, this year, in Kinshasa and reaffirmed their profound commitment to supporting efforts for the holding of peaceful, free democratic and transparent elections in that country.
The declaration states that the leaders welcomed the art of the electoral process as well as the opening of the political space in that country.
The meeting strongly condemned the acts of violence perpetuated in the Eastern part of DRC by armed groups against civilians and the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the DRC and welcomed the deployment of observation missions by the African Union (AU) and others.
The statement expressed the satisfaction of the summit for the role played by the AU in the search for durable solutions to the issues in the Great Lakes and SADC regions and assigned the current chairperson of the AU commission to keep on working for peace, security and development of the concerned countries.
It also called on the international community to fully support the DRC government in their fight against the Ebola epidemic and expressed solidarity and compassion towards victims of the disease in Beni region.
Rwandese minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Richard Sezibera, ambassador of the South Africa in DRC Abel Mxolisi Shilubane, Charge’ d’Affiars of Uganda in the republic of Congo residing in Kinshasa Julius Chihandae also attended the summit.
Others were ambassador of the AU in DRC and representative of chairperson of the Commission of AU Abdou Abarry and ICGLR deputy executive secretary Berthe Eliane Mokodopo.