Crises in Africa discussed today in Luanda

Joseph Kabila at the end of his visit to Luanda on August 2 and 3

Joseph Kabila at the end of his visit to Luanda on August 2 and 3

The situation in DR Congo, the Central African Republic, Lesotho and South Sudan will be discussed today in Luanda at a summit with the Presidents of Angola, Congo, Gabon, DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

The meeting in the Angolan capital will be held three days before the 38th Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Summit, and will also be attended by the Chairman of the African Union Commission (AUC), the Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The meeting will take place Friday and Saturday in the Namibian capital Windhoek, and will mark the transfer of the SADC's rotating presidency from South Africa to Namibia.

The main topic of the meeting in Luanda will be the current situation in DR Congo, where President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, recently announced that he will not run in the December 23 elections, as determined by the country's Constitution, but appointed one of his former ministers, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadiry, as his party's candidate. In addition to Shadiry, three prominent opposition leaders will run in the elections - including one of Kabila's vice presidents from 2003 to 2006, Jean-Pierre Bemba, who has been recently acquitted of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The presidential elections in DR Congo were initially scheduled for 2016, but in January 2005 a law was passed to allow Kabila to remain in power. Since then, the country has been plagued by recurrent cycles of violence and by attempts to reach an agreement between the President's camp and the opposition. More than 200 people have been killed since the protests started in 2015.

On the other hand, if Bemba was able to return to the country and become a candidate, another opposition leader, Moise Katumbi, Governor of Katanga Province from 2007 to 2015, currently in exile in Zambia, was barred from entering DR Congo. In addition to the political crisis, the country is facing an armed rebellion in the North and South Kivu provinces, as well as an Ebola outbreak with more than 20 confirmed cases.

Joseph Kabila visited Luanda earlier this month for a meeting with President João Lourenço but did not make any statements about the situation in his country.

Speaking to the press last week, Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel Augusto said that the meeting in Luanda aims to find 'African solutions to African problems', as well as to establish a common position on the situation in DR Congo and the crises in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Lesotho - situations that are of particular interest to Angola as the country currently presiding the SADC Defense and Security Commission. The Central African Republic has been in permanent turmoil since 2013. The conflict intensified in 2016 and 2017, and a United Nations peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) is in the field with a mandate until November 2018. This has not deterred the Séléka and anti-Balaka militias, which, according to the Angolan Foreign Minister, has caused 'many regional concerns'. Regional leaders are also concerned about the situation in Lesotho, where a crisis that dates back to 2014 has been worsening and where the SADC has a military mission.

According to Manuel Augusto, Lesotho has not put into practice the "20 measures that have been proposed for the country's return to institutional normality" and something must be done with regard to that situation.

The peace agreement in South Sudan between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar and other opposition figures will also be discussed. Independent since 2011, South Sudan has been gripped by civil war since 2013, causing thousands of deaths and more than two million refugees in neighboring countries.

The agreement was signed earlier this month and determines the redistribution of political power, the formation of a national unity government following an eight-month ceasefire, the reintegration of Riek Machar as Vice President, and the unification of all militias, among other provisions. The agreement, signed in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, from which South Sudan gained independence after nearly 30 years of armed struggle, was considered 'unrealistic' by the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway (the Troika monitoring this crisis).