In his capacity as Chairman of Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s Organ of Politics, Defence and Security (Troika), President John Magufuli has pledged to dispatch foreign affairs minister from three African countries to assess the political situation in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Dr Magufuli made the pledge at a press conference in Dar es Salaam after his meeting with visiting President of DRC Joseph Kabila, pledging to send foreign affairs ministers from Tanzania, Mozambique and Angola. DRC is a SADC member.
“President Kabila has briefed me on the situation in his country and will thus send the ministers to assess the situation for way forward,” Dr Magufuli noted.
He went on to explain that the visiting leader had informed him that if elections were conducted today in DRC then a large number of voters, particularly young people, would be left out since they were not registered.
“During the last election five years ago, there were between 30 and 35 million voters but now the number has grown to about 45 million. And thus if elections are held today, then about 10 million people will not be able to take part in the polls,” he stated.
President Magufuli further advised Congolese refugees living in Tanzania to return to their country for registration to be able to take part in the envisaged polls. Earlier, President Kabila said discussions are underway involving various parties in his country to ensure there is peace before, during and after the elections.
“There are lots of misleading reports making rounds in the media in regard to the state of affairs in the DRC, which should be disregarded. All is well in Congo and I assured President Magufuli of this in his capacity as the Troika Chairman.
It is normal in many African countries for tensions to be high during election year and I think the same happened here in Tanzania during the election last year,” President Kabila said in fluent Kiswahili.
On the other hand, the visiting leader revealed that he had informed his host of insurgencies in some parts of Eastern DRC, where a number of armed groups are still wreaking havoc among the population there.
He pointed out the fact that Tanzania has, through the UN mandate, deployed troops to fight the insurgents in Eastern DRC to maintain peace.
In a related development, President Magufuli revealed at the press briefing that President Kabila had asked him to allow his country to join the East African Community (EAC), currently made up of six member-states.
“I have informed his Excellency President Kabila to follow procedures for his country to be admitted, it can start to participate as an observer. It is a known fact that DRC has been trading with many members of the EAC,” Dr Magufuli, who also doubles as Chairman of EAC, said.
Once DRC submits formal application to join the EAC, President Magufuli pledged to submit the request to his fellow leaders of the EAC for deliberations.