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Pretoria - African leaders will meet late Monday to discuss the next steps for a major peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as rebels there are forced onto the back foot.
South African President Jacob Zuma will host leaders from the 15-country Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and some of Congo's neighbours in Pretoria, the country's administrative capital.
Several countries - including South Africa - have contributed troops to a special offensive United Nations intervention brigade, designed to help Congo's army force the M23 rebels into talks.
Presidents from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe are expected to attend, said Clayson Monyela, a spokesman for South Africa's foreign ministry.
“The meeting is a final coordinating meeting between SADC and Great Lakes countries,” said Martin Rupiya, executive director of the Pretoria-based African Public Policy and Research Institute.
“They think M23 is on the rocks,” says Rupiya, “the main agenda is to finish off, as it were, backers of the M23.”
Troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo are currently in the midst of an offensive on the M23's last holdouts.
Some 200 die-hard fighters of the rebel group have been holed up in the mountainous region bordering Uganda since their base in the town of Bunagana was seized on Wednesday.
The United Nations regularly accuses neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda of covertly supporting the rebels, a claim they virulently deny.
Rupiya said the meeting will show a united SADC focused on ending the M23 rebellion and winding down peacekeeping operations.
“There has been some military success on the ground,” said Rupiya, “it appears now is the clearest opportunity for the resolution of the conflict.”
In October, peace talks between the Democratic Republic of Congo government and M23 rebels collapsed and fighting resumed when president Joseph Kabila refused to give amnesty to rebel leaders.
“There is a lot of anticipation that M23 is on the back foot,” said Trevor Maisiri, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, a non-profit research organisation.
“They're going to be shouting from the rooftops about it, but we may see other eruptions a few weeks down the line.”
Maisiri said that the M23 rebels represent just one of many armed, rebellious groups in the region.
“As much as defeating M23 is a significant event, I don't know how much it will help secure stability as there are other groups in the region,” he said, “all we are saying is we need to be cautious.”
On Tuesday, South Africa is hosting a separate summit to talk about the formation of an African stand-by force to be deployed during crises.