Participants in the South African Development Community (SADC) summit in Mozambique. The regional organization has been in existence for 32 years., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Rwanda’s meddling in Congo destabilizing region, SADC leaders say
Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:31PM GMT
Southern African leaders have denounced Rwanda for backing rebel groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, saying Rwandan "interference" in the eastern Congo has threatened regional peace and stability.
The 15 member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) decided to send a mission to Rwanda at its two-day annual summit, which concluded in the Mozambican capital Maputo on Saturday, AFP reported.
"(The) summit noted with great concern that the security situation in the eastern part of DRC has deteriorated in the last three months causing displacement of people, loss of lives and property," SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao said in the final communique of the summit.
"This is being perpetrated by rebel groups with the assistance of Rwanda," Salomao stated, adding that the summit "urged the latter to cease immediately its interference that constitutes a threat to peace and stability not only to the DRC but also to the SADC region."
On Friday, rights groups called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Rwandan President Paul Kagame for alleged war crimes for supporting the Congolese rebels.
Rwandan and Congolese groups congregated outside the court in The Hague with banners reading "Kagame Assassin" and "Freedom for Congo."
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is already investigating members of the March 23 movement (M23) active in the eastern Congo who allegedly have ties with the Rwandan government. However, Kagame denies that his government is backing the M23 rebels.
Since early May, over 220,000 civilians have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. Most of them have resettled inside Congo, but tens of thousands have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese army in April in protest over alleged mistreatment in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.
The mutiny is being led by General Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on a charge of recruiting child soldiers.
Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on for over a decade and left over 5.5 million people dead.