By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone – SADC has condemned the killing of 15 soldiers belonging to its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), serving under the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (MONUSCO).
Namibia, which is the SADC deputy chair, also condemned the killing of the Tanzanian soldiers serving with MONUSCO.
SADC stated that it “has received with great sorrow the information about the killing of 15 soldiers belonging to SADC which occurred at Semuliki, eastern DRC, on 7 December 2017, in which five soldiers belonging to the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) are also reported killed.”
SADC condemned in the strongest terms possible the perpetration of this heinous attack and expressed the hope that the perpetrators will be speedly brought to book, thereby ensuring that justice is served.
SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, expressed SADC’s profound condolences to government and people of Tanzania and the DRC, for the loss of the gallant peacekeepers and soldiers.
“We wish to express our utmost hope that the still missing soldiers will soon be found and that the 53 wounded Tanzanian soldiers will speedily attain full recovery,” said Dr Tax.
“Namibia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said her government had learnt “with deep horror and revulsion, of the wanton killing of United Nations peacekeepers of the Tanzanian contingent serving with MONUSCO.
“The government of Namibia unreservedly condemns this contemptible act of atrocity committed against the peacekeepers.
The government of Namibia wishes to extend its sympathy and fraternal solidarity to the government and the sisterly people of the United Republic of Tanzania over this act of dastardly violence perpetrated against those whose mission is to help the government of the DRC restore peace and security to that country and its long-suffering people.
“The government of Namibia also extends condolences to the bereaved families of the gallant peacekeepers who made supreme sacrifice in the course of peace and to wish the wounded peacekeepers speedy recovery,” she said.
Nandi-Ndaitwah called on MONUSCO to provide all the necessary assistance and support to the DRC national army to pursue and bring and justice to those responsible for “this barbaric act of unprovoked aggression against the peacekeepers”.
Meanwhile SADC said that an Electoral Technical Committee comprising members of the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) and the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC Countries (ECF-SADC), conducted a technical assessment mission to the DRC to assess the electoral administration capacity and technical needs of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) ahead of the country’s anticipated national elections in December 2018.
Among others, the specific objectives of the mission included an assessment of the political and security environment in the DRC and constitutional and legal framework governing the electoral process of the country; an investigation of the challenges faced by CENI in preparing for the elections; and analyses of potential risks of electoral-related violence.
The mission was sanctioned by the SADC Summit of August 2017 which tasked the committee to establish the electoral administration capacity and technical needs of CENI and advice SADC on the type and modalities of electoral assistance that the region should provide to the DRC for its electoral process.
The joint mission was also a response to the United Nations call for a coordinated response by the international community in mobilising political, technical, financial and logistical support to assist CENI in preparing for the forthcoming elections.
During the mission, the committee engaged with a range of electoral stakeholders who among others included CENI, political parties, civil society, government ministries, Catholic bishops of the DRC, diplomatic missions accredited to the DRC and MONUSCO.
The committee also had the opportunity to explore the voting machine that CENI intends to use in the upcoming elections.
In addition, the committee benefitted from CENI’s presentation on its logistical plan for the deployment of election material across the country.
The committee also took note of other developments underway in preparation for the elections.
These include the release of the electoral calendar on 5 November 2017, the on-going review of the electoral law by the current parliamentary session, and the voter registration process which is anticipated to be completed in January 2018.
With regard to CENI’s preparedness to conduct the elections, the committee engaged both CENI and key stakeholders on, among others, voter registration, voting machine, electoral calendar, stakeholder engagement, voter education, credibility of CENI and capacity building of CENI.
SADC said this was the first joint mission conducted by SEAC and ECF-SADC in the region.
The two electoral bodies will continue to work closely in providing technical expertise for SADC’s electoral support initiatives in the DRC.
The mission was led by Advocate Abel Leshele Thoahlane, SEAC chairperson from Lesotho.
The members of the delegation included Professor Mpho Molomo (SEAC member from Botswana); Justice (Rtd.)
John Billy Tendwa, (SEAC member from Tanzania); Advocate Notemba Tjipueja (EXCO chairperson and chairperson of Electoral Commission of Namibia); Simon Mamabolo (chief electoral officer – Electoral Commission of South Africa); Chomba Chella (acting chief electoral officer – Electoral Commission of Zambia); Hilda Modisane (ECF-SADC Secretariat) and officers from the SADC Secretariat. (Also see page 6).