South Africa is ready to deploy peacekeeping troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as soon as a formal request
is received from the United Nations, a South African defence ministry spokesman told IRIN on Tuesday.
Sam Mkhwanazi said South Africa, alongside Nigeria, would provide the bulk of the peacekeepers in the war-torn country to monitor a ceasefire agreement signed by the warring parties last July. "South Africa will deploy the bulk of peacekeeping troops to DRC alongside Nigeria," Sam Mkhwanazi said.
He added, however, that it was not clear whether the UN's request will be channelled through the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) or directly to the South African government. "As soon as the request is received, we will deploy the troops," Mkhwanazi said.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who attended a summit on the DRC in Algeria at the weekend, was quoted as saying South Africa, together with Nigeria, was prepared to send peacekeepers following agreement in Uganda last month on a disengagement plan by the warring parties. The United Nations has committed itself to deploying a force of 500 military observers and 5,000 troops to protect them once an effective ceasefire was in place.
The DRC summit, chaired by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in his capacity as OAU chairman, was also attended by Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo, DRC's leader Laurent-Desire Kabila, Mozambique's Joaquim Chissano, Alpha Konare of Mali and Ketumile Masire, Botswana's former president who is
charged with initiating internal dialogue among DRC parties.
Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, the mediator in the two-year conflict, sent his representative Eric Suwilanzi to the one-day summit. The UN Secretary-General's DRC representative, Kamel Morjane and OAU's Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim also attended the meeting.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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