8486th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Democratic Republic of the Congo

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18-Mar-2019 02:20:12
Secretary-General’s special representative urges continuing Security Council support to safeguard post-transition gains in Democratic Republic of Congo, at 8486th meeting.

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Permanent Representative Says Security Situation Remains Most Pressing Challenge as New President Completes Formation of Government.

The Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) called today for continuing Security Council support for what has been achieved since that country’s first-ever peaceful transfer of power.

With MONUSCO’s mandate up for renewal at the end of March, Leila Zerrougui, who is also the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, pointed to the progress the country has made since Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi’s inauguration as President on 24 January, succeeding Joseph Kabila after largely peaceful elections held on 30 December 2018.

She told members: “We must support the Government in its efforts to honour the expectations of the Congolese population, to advance political dialogue and collaboration, and to seize the opportunities which we are now seeing for a sustainable reduction of armed groups in some areas.” Emphasizing the high expectations of the Congolese people, she acknowledged outstanding challenges, including intercommunal violence and attacks by armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo that have complicated the humanitarian response to a renewed outbreak of Ebola. “Even areas not historically affected by armed conflict can prove fragile,” she noted, stressing that the Government must be encouraged to address the potential causes of violent conflict across country.

The Council also heard from Anny Tenga Modi, Executive Director of AFIA MAMA, a Congolese non-governmental organization committed to the reproductive health of young women and their access to justice, leadership development, economic empowerment, legal assistance and social development. Speaking via video-teleconference from Kinshasa, she said the country is at a historic juncture, noting that the Government has established quota for women in the security sector and set up a special unit to tackle gender-based violence and stamp out such abuse by police. She went on to stress the importance of raising awareness of gender issues among male parliamentarians while calling for the inclusion of more women in the defence and security sectors.

In the ensuing discussion, several Council members welcomed President Tshisekedi’s pledges to build democracy and the rule of law while promoting and protecting human rights, as well as his prompt efforts to reach out to neighbouring States. They also underscored their concern over ongoing violence, the Ebola outbreak and the precarious humanitarian situation. Many expressed support for renewal of MONSUCO’s mandate while recommending an independent strategic review of the Mission.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative applauded the way in which the Congolese people seized the historic opportunity afforded by the peaceful handover of power. However, the spoiler activities of armed groups and ongoing intercommunal violence means that 12.8 million people still need humanitarian assistance and protection, she noted.

South Africa’s delegate called for a greater focus on the situation in the east, expressing support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a 12‑month extension of MONUSCO’s mandate — which expires on 31 March — to allow for a more comprehensive review of operations. The Government, meanwhile, should be given time to outline its priorities before the Mission’s drawdown, she added.

Indonesia’s representative, pointing out that his country is among the largest contributor of troops to MONUSCO, said that its 17,000 “Blue Helmets” are deployed in a vast nation of 84 million people and with a surface area of 2.34 million square kilometres — in other words, one peacekeeper per 4,941 persons and 137 square kilometres. While Indonesia supports a planned exit strategy, it is concerned about the prospect of scaling down an important mission at the peak of its work, he added.

France’s representative noted that the Democratic Republic of the Congo country has hosted United Nations peacekeeping missions for the last 20 years. France will soon table a draft resolution renewing MONUSCO’s mandate while calling for a strategic review, he said, expressing his delegation’s hope that the Council will begin a transition to other forms of support later in 2019, with a view to the Mission’s eventual withdrawal.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reported that his country has been establishing new institutions following the 24 January transition of presidential power. Elections delayed in some areas affected by Ebola are now scheduled for 31 March, while negotiations for the full formation of the new Government are under way, he said, adding that the security situation is the Government’s primary concern. Turning to MONUSCO’s future, he said President Tshisekedi has acknowledged the need for a progressive withdrawal, a joint exit strategy and a strategic dialogue. The Government is calling for a one-year extension of MONUSCO’s mandate, which will allow for the repositioning of troops to better tackle asymmetric warfare and a qualitative improvement with better equipped troops, he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Peru, China, United Kingdom, Kuwait and the Russian Federation.

The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 12:29 p.m.

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