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Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma called on rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Tuesday to lay down their arms.
“I must... express that South Africa remains deeply concerned by the enduring conflict in eastern DRC, perpetrated by local and externally supported armed groups on innocent Congolese civilians,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery at the DRC Parliament.
“Enough is enough, the time for peace is now and to those who would challenge this for their own self-interests, we stand firm in the message that your time is now up, lay down your arms, as no longer will the misery you inflict be tolerated.”
In August, Zuma informed the South African Parliament that 1345
soldiers had been deployed as part of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade in the eastern DRC.
The deployment followed the passing of a UN resolution in March authorising a force to intervene in cases where people's lives and property were threatened.
Zuma said on Tuesday that South Africa stood in solidarity with the DRC in overcoming the conflict.
“As you will well know, the decision to call upon the sons and daughters of the nation's defence forces to serve in the face of imminent danger, is always a difficult one,” he said.
“Nevertheless, my decision to do precisely this, in support of the international community's efforts to restore peace to eastern DRC, is one which I firmly believe in.”
He said South Africa believed the conflict should be resolved through negotiated, political solutions.
“We commend the government of the DRC on its efforts in the Kampala talks 1/8between it and the M23 rebels 3/8. It is nevertheless the case that this optimal strategy cannot take place indefinitely and at all costs,” he said.
“Through the presence of the intervention brigade and indeed through the parallel international forums focused on restoring peace... I am encouraged that now, perhaps more so than at any other time in history, the eventual resolution of the DRC's eastern security problem is finally in sight.”