Misanet.com / The Namibian, 9 June - The Namibian Minister of Defence, Erkki Nghimtina, yesterday said the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) has over the past few weeks withdrawn 600 soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they have been supporting the DRC government which has been under threat from rebels.
Though Namibia has so far only withdrawn roughly about 30 per cent of its 2,000-strong military contingent in Congo Kinshasa (DRC), the Defence Minister told The Namibian that the total pull-out would be completed by the end of August.
More than two years ago Namibia sent thousands of its troops to the DRC to join a military alliance, which includes Zimbabwe and Angola, that effectively thwarted a rebellion supported by Rwanda and Uganda and prevented the rebels from wrestling power from the late DRC President Laurent Kabila.
Yesterday, the Namibian Defence Minister revealed: "Yes, we had 2,000 soldiers in the Congo and 600 have already been withdrawn, and we are doing it gradually. If we get transport (to take the troops out) we put in 20 or 50 soldiers because we don't have a big plane."
- The UN-supervised withdrawal started from May 12 when small detachments of soldiers were put on NDF cargo planes that were flying back to Namibia on resupply missions, Nghimtina said.
Nghimtina was emphatic that Namibia will complete the troop withdrawal by "the end of August ... once we come to September there will be no NDF soldiers in the Congo". He also said the soldiers have been selected from different NDF detachments in the DRC.
When asked about the smoothness of the withdrawal, that also includes Namibia's allies, Zimbabwe and Angola, and even the rebel backers, Rwanda and Uganda, Nghimtina replied: "It is proceeding very smoothly because others are also doing the same. Even the rebels are now withdrawing from their positions."
Even relations between president Sam Nujoma of Namibia and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda have improved dramatically and they have sent emissaries to one other.
On Wednesday afternoon Nujoma received Uganda's Minister in charge of the Presidency, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, at State House where they discussed bilateral and regional issues, including the situation in the DRC.
By Chrispin Inambao, The Namibian