By Yamikani Msukwa
Malawi’s President Joyce Banda is scheduled to attend the United Nations general assembly in New York this month where she will make a special appeal to world leaders to her peace-making efforts in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN’s general assembly is the main policy making organization of the world body and its Security Council recently resolved to escalate the force in the eastern DRC from peace keeping to all-out offensive attack.
As such, President Banda, who is also Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) will take advantage of the forum to appeal for support that will enhance peace-talks with the main 23 rebels, according to State House Press Office.
Over 800 Malawian troops, alongside those of Tanzania and South Africa, have been battling thousands of armed rebels that belong to various groups in the Congo.
They are part of more than 200,000 uniformed soldiers, the largest UN mission in world in an operation that is also funded by the United Nations. The main rebels are allegedly backed by neighbouring Rwanda to wipe out camps of Hutu extremists who were behind the Rwanda massacres. Rwanda has denied the charges that it sponsors M23.
There has been a lull in the fighting, following a declaration of ceasefire by the main M23 rebels and they have been taking part in peace talks in neighbouring Uganda. But security analysts are warning that fighting could resume, this time on a much bigger scale should the talks break down. The Security Council recently resolved to escalate its force in the eastern DRC from peace keeping to all-out offensive attack. The troops are part of what is known as an Intervention Brigade. They are providing what the UN describes as “targeted offensive operations” under specific orders to “neutralize” and disarm rebel groups. In military parlance this is a “shoot-to-kill” order. Malawi and its neighboring states have over the years been hosting a considerable number of refugees from the DRC as well as Rwanda. This is why, say the experts, it is important for President Banda to convince the world leaders for more security, assistance that should not only take care of the security needs of the Congo, but also that of its neighbouring countries as well.