The Mozambican government has approved a proposal to send troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission there.
The Mozambican Council of Ministers (Cabinet) approved the proposal on Tuesday. Cabinet spokesman and Fisheries Minister Victor Borges told APA that the proposal will be submitted to Mozambique’s president Armando Guebuza for final approval. Guebuza is also commander-in-chief of Mozambique’s armed forces and chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“The definition of size and mission of the contingent will be the responsibility of the President”, Borges said.
Mozambique’s proposal to send troops to the DRC follows the signing of a UN-mediated deal on Sunday aimed at ending two decades of conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and paving the way for the deployment of a new military brigade to take on rebel groups.
Congo’s army is fighting the M23 rebels, who have hived off a fiefdom in North Kivu province in a conflict that has dragged Congo’s eastern region back into war and displaced more than half a million people.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who witnessed the signing in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, said he hoped the accord would bring “an era of peace and stability” for Congo and Africa’s Great Lakes, and added that he would soon name a special envoy for the region, Reuters reports.
“It is only the beginning of a comprehensive approach that will require sustained engagement,” Ban said of the accord, which did not include any representatives of rebel groups.
The agreement was signed by leaders and envoys of eleven African countries, including Rwanda and Uganda, which have been accused by UN experts of stoking the rebellion. They deny the accusation.
Speaking after the signing, Ugandan Vice President Edward Ssekandi said the deal could speed up the deployment of a new, UN-flagged intervention force to take on the rebels.
Successive cross-border conflicts have killed and uprooted millions in the Congo basin since the colonial era, driven by political and ethnic divisions and competition for vast mineral resources like gold, tin, tungsten and coltan – a precious metal used to make mobile phones.
Ki-moon on Sunday said that he will shortly propose a new approach to addressing the conflict in the DRC. This will include “a strengthened political and security role” for the UN mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), “including the deployment of an intervention brigade with a peace enforcement mandate”.
In December last year an SADC summit agreed to provide 4 000 troops for a Neutral International Force (NIF) in the restive eastern DRC. Countries that have pledged to send troops include Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania.
The NIF is estimated by the SADC to cost around $100 million to maintain.