The heads of state from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) convened in Luanda, Angola for an extraordinary summit to address the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which has been grappling with the resurgence of the M23 rebellion. The meeting primarily focused on the deployment of a regional SADC force to replace the East African Community force, which Kinshasa now wishes to see withdrawn.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been contending with the resurgence of the M23 rebellion for nearly two years, a rebellion that, according to several UN reports, is allegedly backed by neighboring Rwanda—an accusation vehemently denied by Kigali. The objective of this meeting was to make progress on the deployment of a military force, expected to arrive soon in the country (SAMIDRC).
While SADC countries expressed their “concern over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern DRC,” few details have emerged from the meeting regarding the future regional force.
The final communiqué only mentions “strategic directions.” The heads of state discussed budgetary matters, contributing countries (South Africa, Malawi, and Tanzania have expressed their intention to provide troops), and the timeline, without officially confirming these advancements.
On the Congolese side, there is talk of the meeting’s success. “It went well,” confirmed a high-ranking source who was present in Luanda. This source added that the deployment of the force is still on the table and must occur “quickly, before the departure of EAC troops,” whose mandate expires in a month. Furthermore, we are informed that a plan exists and has been formulated by the region’s chiefs of staff.
On the diplomatic front, one noteworthy development after this summit is that the Angolan President and current SADC chair, João Lourenço, has been tasked by his peers to work towards a lasting peace. This entails redoubling efforts to foster reconciliation between Kinshasa and Kigali.
In the meantime, fighting continues in North Kivu between the M23 and self-defense groups known as Wazalendo. Incidents of conflict were reported on Sunday morning, November 5, in the vicinity of the town of Kitshanga, situated between the Rutshuru and Masisi territories.