Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi says he intends to negotiate a security deal with South Africa, as militias continue to seize large swaths of the country’s volatile east.
Tshisekedi said at a news conference with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Kinshasa that the agreement may take the shape of a mutual defense treaty.
The Congolese president highlighted the mutual defence pact of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as a potential model, without going into details.
Both the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa are members of the 16-nation SADC.
Ramaphosa, for his part, pledged to keep helping the DRC to fight insecurity and poverty.
Armed groups have plagued parts of the eastern DRC for three decades, a legacy of regional battles that erupted in the 1990s and early 2000s.
However, after resurfacing from inactivity in late 2021, the M23 rebel organization has captured vast swaths of territory and displaced about a million people in the region.
The DRC has regularly accused its smaller neighbor Rwanda of supporting the Tutsi-led M23, which Kigali denies.
However, the US and a number of other Western countries, as well as independent UN experts, agree with the DRC’s conclusion.
Tshisekedi stated on Thursday that he is not opposed to discussion to end the situation, but that he will not speak to “puppets” in the M23.