Leaders from 15 southern African nations have opened two days of
discussions in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Political
confrontations in Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Lesotho and eastern Congo are
high on the agenda.
The Southern African Development Community
summit in Kinshasa is expected to call for Western nations to lift
sanctions against Zimbabwe and hear progress reports on mediation
efforts in several member nations.
Outgoing SADC Chairman, South
African President Jacob Zuma, said significant progress has been made
since the Global Political Agreement was signed one year ago between
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai. But he indicated more work remains to be done.
"We urge all parties to remove any obstacles to the implementation of the agreement," Mr. Zuma said.
A spokesman for Mr. Tsvangirai, James Maridadi, said the subject of Zimbabwe would be dealt with at a special summit.
is not on the agenda. Zimbabwe is clearly not on the agenda. What we
are saying is that we have heard what the incoming and outgoing
chairmen have said, and it is indicative, that there will be an
extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe," Maridadi said.
There was no confirmation of this statement from SADC officials.
so-called Global Political Agreement led to the creation in February of
a unity government in Zimbabwe. But Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change has complained of hundreds of violations of the
accord by Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF Party, including failing to reverse
appointments of allies to key political and administrative posts.
Mugabe has complained that Mr. Tsvangirai has failed to persuade
western governments to lift sanctions against senior officials in his
party and halt what is termed hostile foreign broadcasts to Zimbabwe.
on SADC's agenda, former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano is to
present a report on his efforts to mediate a political standoff in
Madagascar that erupted early this year when then-President Marc
Ravalomanana was ousted by current leader Andry Rajoelina. SADC called
the ouster a coup and suspended Madagascar.
President Ketumile Masire is also scheduled to present a report on his
efforts to mediate a standoff in Lesotho that lingers two years after
disputed elections there.
And Southern African leaders are to
study efforts to end violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of
Congo one year after renewed fighting displaced an estimated 200,000
people in its eastern Kivu region.
The number-two official in
South Africa's Foreign Affairs Ministry, Director-General Ayanda
Ntsaluba, said these crises will test incoming SADC Chairman, Congolese
President Joseph Kabila, whose government is preoccupied with
rebuilding the country after two civil wars.
"If anyone of us
said the DRC is not going to struggle a bit I think [he or she] would
be lying. It is a huge responsibility. They have got very pressing
domestic challenges," Ntsaluba said.
SADC officials say the
leaders will also forge common positions on addressing climate change
and the global recession. And they are to seek ways to harmonize
customs tariffs between SADC and two other regional groups, the East
African Community and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa