By Mbajitua Ngavirue WINDHOEK Minister of Foreign Affairs Marco Hausiku on Friday said SADC countries have a collective responsibility to work together to prevent conflicts that might become obstacles to socio-economic development. Hausiku was speaking at the opening of the 8th Annual Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in Windhoek. He commended the ongoing efforts by SADC to assist the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “The DRC needs our full support in its critical transition to democracy, lasting peace and stability. We have committed ourselves to assist the government and people of the DRC to achieve these noble objectives,” he added. In this regard, he congratulated the people of the DRC for the peaceful elections that took place on July 30, 2006, saying they should be encouraged to continue on the path towards sustainable peace and democracy. Speaking at the same occasion, Executive Secretary of SADC Dr TomÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šz Augusto SalomÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£o said the peace, security and stability enjoyed in SADC countries was a direct and tangible result of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security. Elections were held in Tanzania in October and December 2005, which resulted in the re-election of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi and the election of its candidate Jakia Mrisho Kikwete as president. Zimbabwe held senatorial elections in November 2005, while South Africa held local elections in March 2006. “All these elections were held under the umbrella of laws that are consistent with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,” SalomÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£o said. SADC’s Electoral Observer Missions and the international community in general praised the people of Zimbabwe and Tanzania for peaceful and orderly elections. “The people of Zambia and Madagascar shall also go to the polls before the end of this year. We are confident the trend of peaceful elections and acceptance of the results shall be maintained,” he stated. SalomÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£o noted that the 2003 summit approved the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO) giving detailed guidelines on the priorities and institutional setup of the political leg of the organisation. While a systematic eva-luation still needed to be done, it was worth noting some of the visible outcomes of SIPO. This included reactivation of the Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre (RPTC), the adoption of the Principles and Guidelines, increased bi-lateral commissions between member states and gender mainstreaming in the defence and security sector. SalomÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£o used the opportunity to again invite the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security to the SADC 2006 Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held in the Kingdom of Lesotho August 16 -18.
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