DRC, South Africa plan security pact to combat militias
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said on Thursday that he was planning sign a security agreement with South Africa, as militias continue to occupy swathes of turbulent eastern Congo.
In a news conference with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, in the capital Kinshasa, Tshisekedi explained that the accord could take the form of a mutual-defence pact.
The Congolese president highlighted the mutual defence pact of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as a potential model, without going into details.
“We’ll know more in the days or weeks to come,” Tshisekedi said.
Both the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa are members of the 16-nation SADC.
Ramaphosa, for his part, pledged to keep helping the DRC to fight insecurity and poverty.
“We are willing, prepared and always ready to support the DRC as we have done in the past and we will continue to do so,” he said.
“We are also going to strengthen that relationship by having a bilateral agreement on security and defence,” the South African leader added.
Armed groups have plagued much of the eastern DRC for three decades, a legacy of regional wars that flared in the 1990s and early 2000s.
But the M23 rebel group has seized swathes of territory and displaced about a million people in the region since re-emerging from dormancy in late 2021.
The DRC has repeatedly accused its smaller neighbour Rwanda of backing the Tutsi-led M23, a charge Kigali denies.
But the United States and several other Western countries, as well as independent UN experts, agree with the DRC’s assessment.
On Thursday, Tshisekedi said that he did not oppose to dialogue to end the conflict but that he refused to talk to “puppets” in the M23.