Botswana plans peacekeeping support in DRC
Gaborone ‑Botswana has said it is not going to take an active part in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) war, but rather in the planning of peace support operations.
The Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security revealed this recently while responding to local media reports that Botswana has created a tense atmosphere within the region by reneging on the SADC mandate aimed at resolving the armed conflict in the Eastern Part of the DRC.
The ministry dismissed the media comments as false, misleading, inappropriate and baseless.
“Contrary to the report, Botswana continues to actively engage at all levels within SADC for the pacific resolution of the DRC situation,” said the ministry in a statement.
According to the defence ministry, SADC Member States have been asked to make pledges towards peace efforts in Eastern DRC and Botswana awaits the alignment of the current MONUSCO operation with the planned SADC intervention for purposes of determining the extent of her participation.
MONUSCO was established by the United Nations in July 2010 and has replaced the previously established peacekeeping operation, MONUC. The current operation involves protecting the local population against threats of violence and supporting the current government in office.
Headquartered in DRC capital Kinshasa, the mission currently has personnel in excess of 23 000 individuals.
The ministry also rubbished reports that the UK Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards had come to persuade Botswana to participate in peace efforts in the DRC.
“This is once again untrue. Sir General Richards was here to discuss issues of mutual interest, and his visit had absolutely no bearing on the participation of BDF in the peace support operations in the DRC,” said Botswana’s defence ministry.
Botswana says it has always supported peace operations as is evidenced through her participation in Somalia, Mozambique and Darfur.
“We, therefore, wish to assure the public that Botswana stands ready to fulfil her obligations regionally and internationally,” said Botswana.
Reports indicate that on December 7 and 8, last year, in Maputo, Mozambique, the SADC Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government discussed the crisis situation in the eastern DRC.
It was agreed that the situation in eastern DRC requires the physical presence of SADC-mandated troops. They will be deployed to neutralise DRC army rebels calling themselves M23, who a United Nations group of experts says are backed by Rwanda. In 1998, SADC mandated Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe to deploy in the DRC against rebel groups backed by Rwanda and Uganda, who were tacitly supported by the United States and France, among other Western military powers.