Keeping the Lid on the DRC

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence today gather in the capital for the Inter-State Politics and Diplomacy Committee (ISPDC) meeting. One of the hot topics to be deliberated, New Era has learnt, involves sending an election observer team to monitor the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) elections scheduled for July 30 this year. The delegates will also determine the number of observers that will comprise the team. There are 200 political parties in the DRC with 33 presidential candidates. The election is to be the first multi-party poll in the vast African country in 45 years, ending a post-war transitional period. Transitional President Joseph Kabila is registered among the presidential candidates. The meeting will further review the political situation in the region. Currently, the region is reported to be politically stable and peaceful. Evidence of this is the growing number of interested investors in different sectors as well as the increasing flow of non-SADC citizens seeking employment. On defence and security, the ministers will deliberate on the possibility of creating a joint defence and security team to serve as the advisory body on issues of the integration of defence and security forces as well as providing actual training in this field. Other issues to be looked at include the consolidation of democracy in the region, the status of the implementation of the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ on Politics (SIPO), the implementation framework and the evaluation of implemented activities, the staffing of the SADC Secretariat and the SADC’s contribution to Peace Support Operations. The delegates will also report on progress made thus far in their member states with regard to the implementation of the mentioned areas and the way forward. Namibia chairs the SADC organ on Politics and Defence and is thus tasked to host this years’ meeting. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairperson of ISPDC, Marco Hausiku, will officially open this one-day meeting today.