SADC/ICGLR MINISTERIAL MEETING PRESS RELEASE
The second joint ministerial meeting of the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) countries was concluded in Luanda July 2, 2014 with concrete steps to finding sustainable peace in the region.
The well attended meeting by all country members represented by foreign and defence ministers deliberated heavily on a single agenda of voluntarily disarmament of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Hon. Bernard Membe, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, led the Tanzania delegation whereby the Tanzania Defence Minister was represented by the Tanzanian Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Samuel Ndomba.
FDLR a politico-military organization whose combatants are exclusively freedom fighters originally from Rwanda settled in DRC, wrote an appeal letter to SADC secretariat expressing their readiness to surrender and hand over their weaponry to African relevant authorities. The letter also requested assistance from the organ to oversee the process of Disarm, Demobilize, Repatriate, Resettle and Re-integrate (DDRRR) in accordance to the directives of other neighbouring countries including Tanzania.
Apart from accepting the said letter, SADC member states welcomed the FDLR willingly surrender and adherence to the DDRRR process. They however strongly suggested other stakeholders such as AU, UN and ICGLR to oversee the process while Rwanda and DRC were urged to take part in the process.
In a joint session, delegates discussed the provisional six-month time frame given to the FDLR to complete the DDRRR process as proposed by the technical experts meeting prior to ministerial meeting. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) supported by majority countries including Tanzania insisted that the allocated timeframe was right while Rwanda claimed the past experiences proved 3 months to be enough.
However the chair and the host of the said meeting, Angola, ruled out for the six months proposal but should be revised by the third month to gauge progress.
It is the expectation of all countries in attendance that the DDRRR process is implemented within the given time frame with full engagement of both DRC and Rwanda.
The ICGLR/SADC member countries also urged international community and neighbouring countries to join hands with DRC and Rwanda in this historical peace - making process.
The third meeting of this nature is expected to take place within the next three months.
Government Communication Unit;
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dar es Salaam
03rd July, 2014