By Spy Uganda
Leaders from four regional blocs of the African continent – the EAC, ECCAS, ICGLR and SADC – met in Luanda, Angola, on Tuesday, June 27, with the security crisis in eastern DR Congo high on the agenda.
At the end, the Quadripartite Summit, the first of its kind, commended the efforts by the four regional blocs “for their recognition of the need for a harmonized and coordinated approach under the leadership of the African Union to address the various security threats facing the Great Lakes Region.
As noted, in a communique, the Quadripartite Summit “encourages them to further strengthen their cooperation and enhance their collective security efforts.”
In this context, commends SADC, in particular, for its initiative calling for the strengthening of the harmonization and coordination of all political and diplomatic initiatives and efforts in pursuit of peace and security in eastern DR Congo.
According to the communique released after the Quadripartite Summit, the leaders adopted a joint framework on coordination of peace initiatives in eastern DR Congo, which “harmonizes the initiatives of the quadripartite in line with their relevant instruments and decisions with a clear division of responsibilities and agreed timelines.”
The Luanda and Nairobi processes – initiatives of the ICGLR and the East African Community, respectively – have been running since 2022 seeking to restore peace in eastern DR Congo, which is home to more than 130 armed groups.
With troops from EAC already deployed to eastern DR Congo, the Southern African Development Community had also approved its military deployment in May.
The summit requested leaders of the participating countries to fully implement the joint framework and report to the AU Peace and Security Council on a quarterly basis and other statutory meetings of the AU.
The first Quadripartite Summit was attended by the presidents of DR Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe, Gabon, Comoros and Burundi. Also present were Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta and AU Commission chairperson Amb. Moussa Faki Mahamat, as well as representatives of the UN.
The summit welcomed the achievements on political, military, humanitarian and socio-economic processes registered so far by the various stakeholders aiming at resolving the challenges facing the eastern DR Congo and commended the regional mechanisms for their tireless efforts.
Among others, the summit applauded efforts deployed by Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye, who chairs the EAC. It commended the EAC regional force for its efforts in restoration of peace and security in eastern DR Congo.
The summit expressed concern over the prevailing insecurity and humanitarian situation in DR Congo, exacerbated by the criminal activities of the armed and terrorist groups.
The summit demanded the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all armed groups, in particular the M23, the ADF and FDLR from the occupied territories as outlined in the Luanda Roadmap of 23 November 2022; and called for the establishment of humanitarian corridors.
It welcomed progress made on the preparation for the pre-cantonment and cantonment sites for the disarmament of the M23, while underscoring the need to continue implementing the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration community stabilization (DDRC-S) programme for ex-combatants.
The summit requested the AU Commission to convene a meeting of the Chiefs of Defence of the members of the quadripartite to coordinate existing and planned deployments to eastern DR Congo.
It emphasized the need for timely information-sharing and consultations between the AU Commission, the UN and regional bodies regarding efforts for the restoration of peace and stability in eastern DR Congo and the region.
The leaders agreed to hold the second Quadripartite Summit in Bujumbura, Burundi, at a date yet to be announced.