SADC Foreign Ministers Visit DRC

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By Mandisa Rasmeni WINDHOEK Foreign Affairs Minister Marco Hausiku said while on a recent visit to Kinshasa in the DRC that the Southern African Development Community had become seized with the situation prevailing in the Congo since that country became a SADC member. At a separate meeting of the 4th gathering of the Inter-State Politics and Diplomacy Committee (ISPDC) held in Windhoek last month, it was decided that SADC Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs pay a working visit to the DRC to encourage all political forces and stakeholders in that country to consolidate achievements attained thus far for the planned landmark elections. Over 200 political parties are contesting the forthcoming elections in this vast, resource-rich central African country. More than 9 000 parliamentary candidates are contesting 500 seats, while 33 candidates are contesting the presidency. The size of political parties and the number of presidential and parliamentary candidates reflect the aspirations to democracy, said Namibia’s foreign affairs minister. Hausiku felt there is need to ensure that the high expectations of the people are safeguarded through a peaceful electoral process. SADC shall work closely with the people of the DRC in order to encourage them to move towards a peaceful transition. SADC urges the international community and individual countries, especially those countries that are neighbouring the DRC, to ensure full support and cooperation in the peace process in that country. The election results are crucial because after elections there is a need to preserve peace and stability as well as start the restructuring and reconstruction process. SADC recognizes and is indeed encouraged by the ongoing efforts by the people of the DRC towards peace building and reconciliation, Hausiku added. Hausiku wished to inform the people of the DRC that the presence of SADC ministers in the country is within the framework of the SADC Treaty as well as the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections in the region. Within the same framework, SADC has deployed its Electoral Observer Mission, which was officially launched on 26 June, 2006. He said he was pleased that John Pandeni, a Member of Parliament and Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development in Namibia, appointed by President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who is the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, is leading the SADC Electoral Observer Mission to the DRC.