8370th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Democratic Republic of Congo

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11-Oct-2018 02:32:40
Outstanding issues must be resolved before Democratic Republic of Congo elections, speakers tell Security Council at 8370th meeting.

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Affirming that preparations for December presidential and legislative elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are well advanced, speakers in the Security Council this morning urged all stakeholders to reach consensus on outstanding issues to ensure that the poll results will be universally respected.

Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said the electoral law has been revised, voter lists established and candidates for presidential, national and provisional assemblies validated for the 23 December polls.

Presenting the latest report of the Secretary-General (document S/2018/882), she said tensions persist, however, over the earlier invalidation of some candidates and questions about the use of voting machines, as well as the clean-up of the electoral lists. She called on all parties to resolve their differences through dialogue. Noting that security remains a challenge in parts of the country, she also recommended the deployment of special security teams to ensure a safe environment for the polls.

Attacks by armed groups in the east, notably around Beni in North Kivu, have also complicated efforts by humanitarian workers trying to contain the latest outbreak of Ebola. Paying tribute to the risks taken by those workers and the MONUSCO staff helping to protect them while also carrying out their mandate for the protection of civilians, she welcomed the more effective stance taken by the Force Intervention and other Mission units in that regard. However, she added, it was regrettable there were still difficulties in their getting adequate equipment due to Government restrictions.

Despite all those challenges, she looked forward to progress in the country in the important period ahead, she said. In particular, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. Denis Mukwege for his work with women victims of violence sent a positive signal to the women in the country that the scourge of sexual violence was getting the attention it deserved.

Said Djinnit, Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes, presented the latest report on implementation of the so-called Framework Agreement in the Great Lakes region (document S/2018/882), covering the period from 1 March to 31 August. He said insecurity in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo persists due to the presence of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) members, as well as those belonging to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), former 23 March Movement (M23) fighters, some Burundian elements and other local armed groups.

Allegations of cross-border interferences continue to be made and the activities of those groups are also fuelling mistrust among the region’s countries, factors which continue to threaten peace and security, he said. He spotlighted efforts to strengthen MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade and progress made in cooperation in the region, particularly in the repatriation of disarmed combatants from the armed groups.

Council members welcomed the progress made in electoral preparations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and seconded the call on all parties to resolve outstanding issues by consensus through dialogue. The need for transparency and respect for human rights on the part of authorities and for non-violence on the part of all was underlined by some speakers.

While all speakers recognized the importance of the elections, some cautioned that they were not a panacea and that for lasting stability in the country such factors as socioeconomic development, decentralization of State authority, security sector reform and increased cooperation within the Great Lakes framework were needed.

Many speakers also took note of the country’s willingness to take responsibility for financing and security of the elections. However, the representatives of China and the Russian Federation stressed the importance of national ownership of the process without undue international interference in the country’s sovereignty, emphasizing the need for MONUSCO to comply strictly with its mandated tasks and only assist with the vote as requested by the Government.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo affirmed that the preparations for elections were well under way for the 23 December polls. He also said he hoped that during their recent visit Council members gained a greater understanding of the use of the controversial voting machines, which, he explained are being utilized for reasons both of cost and timely reporting, having been vetted by independent organizations.

The country is committed to funding the elections itself and to devise its own security strategy as is its national responsibility, he confirmed, but added that it also reserved the possibility of requesting assistance if needed. He reiterated the Government’s pledge that the elections would be free and fair and reported that the climate is currently calm.

On the matter of security in the east, he said that the Congolese armed forces held the main responsibility for combat against armed groups. However, the Government had requested that, in the withdrawal of MONUSCO forces, the Forces Intervention be the last to go. He also described training for Congolese forces to prevent sexual violence, as well as efforts to prosecute armed groups for such crimes. Still, he called for more progress in repatriation of former fighters between regional countries as required by the Framework Agreement.

Finally, he described a significant Government response to the Ebola outbreak and a new strategy designed to deal with the persistence of the disease in the Beni area. Countries in the area are discussing a plan of action to deal regionally with such outbreaks and the Ministry of Health is providing daily updates. He finally gave thanks to the Security Council, MONUSCO and all those who have assisted his country emerge from conflict.

Also speaking were representatives of France, Kazakhstan, United States, Sweden, Netherlands, Peru, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, United Kingdom, Cote d’Ivoire, Poland and Bolivia.

The meeting began at 10:21 a.m. and ended at 12:55 p.m.
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