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Congo (Kinshasa): Peace or Stalemate

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Dec 4, 2005 (051204)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is preparing for a referendum on an new constitution on December 18, part of a long peace process scheduled to lead to an elected government by June of next year. Nevertheless, the transition to peace and stability in the country is precarious. According to the International Crisis Group, "Reunification has been plagued by government corruption and mismanagement, failure to reform the security sector, the ongoing threat of the Rwandan Hutu insurgency FDLR based in the eastern Congo, and a weak UN peacekeeping mission (MONUC) that is not adequately protecting civilians."

In addition to over 16,000 UN peacekeepers in the country, and a newly functioning military commission bringing together Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, the African Union is considering deploying as many as 7,000 additional troops to the country in 2006. But the UN Security Council has rejected the SecretaryGeneral's recommendation for an additional brigade to provide security in the province of Katanga, and there are still as many as 15,000 foreign combatants in eastern Congo. The UN General Assembly has proposed a budget of $1.13 billion for the UN mission over the year ending in June 2006.But the International Crisis Group report says the mission needs not only funds but also to act more forcefully to protect civilians and overcome the obstacles to peace.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a press release and overview from an October report by the International Crisis Group, stressing the steps necessary to "save the peace process and produce a successful transition to elected government." It also contains an excerpt from the latest report by the United Nations SecretaryGeneral on peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The most extensive source of background and current news on the peace process, in both English and French, is the MONUC website (http://www.monuc.org).

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

The Democratic Republic of the Congo will likely relapse into mass violence unless the Congolese parties and the international community take urgent measures.

International Crisis Group
http://www.crisisgroup.org

Nairobi/Brussels, 19 October 2005:

A Congo Action Plan, the latest policy briefing from the International Crisis Group, lays out a comprehensive and urgent set of actions to save the peace process and produce a successful transition to elected government by June 2006. Reunification has been plagued by government corruption and mismanagement, failure to reform the security sector, the ongoing threat of the Rwandan Hutu insurgency FDLR based in the eastern Congo, and a weak UN peacekeeping mission (MONUC) that is not adequately protecting civilians.

"With elections already postponed for a year, security sector reform, good governance and justice cannot await a new government", says Suliman Baldo, Crisis Group's Africa Program Director. "They must be prerequisites for elections or the transition process will continue to crumble, and the country will descend into renewed ethnic violence".

Up to 1,000 people are still dying every day from war-related causes in Congo. While the transitional government has made some progress, the reluctance of the main parties to relinquish power has stalled the process. Crisis Group's Congo Action Plan lays out specific steps for the transitional government and major donors, such as the U.S., the UN and the European Union to take, including to:

  • prepare for and carry out free and fair elections by passing key electoral laws and setting up a robust monitoring system;
  • curb state corruption by tying foreign assistance to good governance, strengthening Congolese institutions, creating a human rights chamber in the court system and enacting targeted sanctions;
  • create an integrated national army and police force to establish security; and
  • resolve the FDLR problem by returning the rebels to Rwanda, peacefully and voluntarily by incentives if possible, or by forcible disarmament if necessary, led by a more assertive MONUC, which must fulfil its mandate to protect civilians.

"This is a watershed year", says Jason Stearns, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for the Congo. "Thousands of civilians are still at risk, and this is their country's last best chance at a real transition to peace".

Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) +32 (0) 2 541 1635 Kimberly Abbott (Washington) +1 202 785 1601


A Congo Action Plan

Africa Briefing N 34

19 October 2005

Overview

More than two years into the transition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the peace process remains at risk. As many as 1,000 people a day still die from war-related causes -- mainly disease and malnutrition, but also continuing violence. While the main belligerent leaders are all in the transitional government, their corruption and mismanagement threaten stability during and after the forthcoming national elections, now postponed from June 2005 to March 2006. The international community needs to maintain pressure on a wide front, making specific security sector reform, transitional justice and good governance measures prerequisites for the elections, not allowing them to be postponed until there is a new government.

The 2002 Global and All-Inclusive Agreement created the present transitional government out of the main domestic warring parties and committed it to a plan for reunification of the country, disarmament and integration of armed groups, and elections. Some progress has been made. The parliament has passed a draft constitution (though it faces an uncertain referendum in November) and laws on citizenship, the national army and political parties. The former belligerents have begun to merge their separate administrative structures and armed groups. But the process with respect to reform of the security sector, as well as the judiciary and local administration, is far from complete.

The main reason for the impasse, including postponement of elections, has been the reluctance of the former belligerents to give up power and assets for the national good. All have maintained parallel command structures in the army, the local administration and the intelligence services. Extensive embezzlement has resulted in inadequate and irregular payment of civil servants and soldiers, making the state itself perhaps the largest security threat to the Congolese people.

State weakness also allows armed groups in the east to continue to abuse civilians. The Rwandan Hutu insurgent group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), has refused to honour its March 2005 pledge to return home peacefully and has committed several massacres. In northern Katanga, Mai-Mai groups have fought each other and the Congolese army, displacing over 280,000 people in the province. And in Ituri, despite some robust actions by the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), 4,000 to 5,000 combatants still regularly attack the local population, international troops and humanitarian officials.

The coming year will be decisive for the Congo, one of Africa's largest and potentially richest countries. A successful transition is by no means guaranteed. Unfortunately it is quite possible that political leaders will continue to block critical transitional reforms and try to skew the elections in their favour. There are reasonable grounds for fearing electoral manipulation and even a relapse into mass violence that would put at severe risk both the unity of the Congo and the stability of much of the continent.

If these dangers are to be avoided, the UN Security Council and other key members of the international community must press the transitional government to take comprehensive action to stop the suffering of the Congolese people, and ensure the success of the transition by June 2006. This briefing spells out a comprehensive action plan, built around five critical objectives, with the following major elements:

  • One: free and fair elections. The parliament must pass key electoral laws; President Kabila must keep his commitment to appoint new local administrations that fairly reflect the power-sharing agreement signed in Pretoria in 2002; and the international community must set up an effective system for monitoring the elections anticipated in March 2006.

  • Two: good governance and justice. A joint donors/ Congolese mechanism should be implemented to curb state corruption; donor aid should be tied to specific progress on good governance and strengthening Congolese institutions, in particular the judiciary and parliamentary commissions; a specialised human rights chamber should be established within the court system to supplement the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC); and the Security Council should enact targeted sanctions against the violators of the arms embargo.

  • Three: an integrated national army and police force to establish security. Donors should create an International Military Assistance and Training Team (IMATT) to integrate all aid and training for the new security forces; assistance for security sector reform should be increased and a working group established to coordinate support for police development.

  • Four: disarmament, demobilisation and repatriation of the FDLR. Peaceful efforts to entice the FDLR home must be exhausted, with Rwanda clarifying which officers it intends to prosecute for genocide and offering more generous incentives for others to return; there should be international monitoring of the return process and targeted Security Council sanctions against hard-line leaders, especially those in Europe. In parallel, there should be preparation for, and commencement of, military pressure on the FDLR, with MONUC taking the initial lead.
  • Five: fulfilment of MONUC's mandate to protect civilians. The UN Security Council needs to authorise more troops for MONUC; the EU and other donors should give it greater access to intelligence assets; and either MONUC's mandate should be formally strengthened or its concept of operations should be clarified to ensure that it acts more robustly and proactively against the FDLR and other armed groups.


Nineteenth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Security Council Distr.: General 26 September 2005

United Nations S/2005/603

[Full report available on http://www.monuc.org and http://www.un.org]

VII. Observations and recommendations

71. Despite delays, largely caused by logistical problems, encouraging progress has been made so far in the voter registration process, which is an important step towards the holding of democratic elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is vital that the necessary legislation, including the electoral law, be adopted by the Transitional Government and Parliament with a minimum of delay so that the elections can be organized no later than June 2006. In this connection, the commendable support provided by the international partners to the electoral process needs to be sustained. I urge donors to accelerate the disbursement of their generous pledges for financing the organization of the elections. Meanwhile, MONUC is expanding its extensive role nationwide in providing logistical and other support to the Independent Electoral Commission, which will be crucial for the successful holding of the polls.

72. In the meantime, considerable progress has been made in training of the Congolese National police who will provide security for the elections. Furthermore, I am grateful to the Security Council for the authorization for additional formed police units, which will be deployed in the coming weeks and will increase the Mission's capacity to assist in providing security during the electoral period. However, as also indicated in my previous report on MONUC (S/2005/506), an enhancement of the Mission's military capacity will be required to address the threats posed by armed groups in Katanga and contribute to establishing the necessary security conditions for elections in that volatile province. In this regard, I hope that the Council will give due consideration to my recommendation for an increase of 2,580 in the force strength of MONUC, to carry out the tasks outlined in paragraphs 27 to 29 above.

73. Good governance, including, in particular, the proper management of natural resources and State funds, including those provided for the elections, and ensuring the regular payment of salaries to military personnel, police and civil servants, is vital to ensure that the transitional process is credible and enjoys widespread public support. In this connection, the Transitional Government needs to demonstrate a commitment to working closely with its international partners to establish a mechanism to ensure the sound, transparent and accountable management of public finances and to effectively address corruption.

74. While well-trained and equipped police and military presences are vital to achieving security, law and order cannot be achieved without effective judicial and corrections institutions to underpin law enforcement activity. In many areas of the country, however, there is neither detention capacity nor any functioning courts, obliging law enforcement authorities to release allegedly dangerous perpetrators or request that MONUC contingents confine suspects for reasons of security and protection of civilians. The Transitional Government needs to take urgent action to increase judicial capacity and to ensure humane conditions of detention. In this regard, I call upon the Congolese authorities to allocate adequate financial resources for strengthening the justice sector in the 2006 State budget and I appeal to donors to increase their support to this vital area.

75. In the remaining months of the transition, the extension of State administration throughout the country and the improved delivery of basic services to the population should be accorded priority by the Transitional Government. In this connection, the Government and its international partners should focus on developing and implementing a plan to integrate Ituri more fully into the rest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly with regard to financial, administrative and security aspects. The transitional authorities should also take the necessary measures to establish control over the exploitation of Ituri's natural resources, to promote reconstruction and development and to provide a tangible peace dividend for the people. In this regard, the development of security mechanisms to protect civilians and to facilitate the monitoring of cross-border movements of combatants in the east of the country and violations of the arms embargo should be priority tasks.

76. Despite the immense suffering of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, too little attention has been paid by the international community to the continuing humanitarian catastrophe in the country. The work being undertaken to launch a 2006 humanitarian action plan seeking to address basic needs of the Congolese people is highly commendable, and I would urge donors to support this important, comprehensive initiative, as well as to provide additional resources in response to the 2005 Consolidated Appeal.

77. During the past three years, MONUC has sought to disarm and demobilize foreign armed groups on the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to facilitate their voluntary return to their countries of origin. Almost 12,000 combatants and their dependants have been repatriated. During that period, MONUC and the International Committee for Support to the Transition have urged the Transitional Government to take measures to forcibly disarm the remaining foreign armed groups and facilitate their repatriation. The general consensus within the Transitional Government on carrying out a process of forcible disarmament is encouraging. However, FARDC still needs to build sufficient capacity to take effective action against FDLR and additional international financial and logistical support will be crucial in achieving this. Meanwhile, clear public commitments from the Governments of Rwanda and Uganda on security guarantees and incentives for returnees who have not been responsible for gross human rights violations will be vital in encouraging progress in the disarmament and repatriation process.

78. Some progress has been made in the reform of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the integration and deployment of five brigades, and it is vital that the Transitional Government assume full responsibility in this important area. In this regard, I would call for increased support by international partners for the security sector reform, including through addressing the main requirements for supporting and sustaining the FARDC brigades, as outlined in paragraphs 36 and 37 above.

79. Further concerted efforts need to be made to stop the continued gross human rights violations by armed groups and FARDC against civilians in Ituri, the Kivus, and central and northern Katanga, which are seriously undermining efforts to stabilize these areas and affecting the organization of elections. Under the Mission's mandate for the protection of civilians, MONUC, as well as United Nations humanitarian and human rights personnel, intend to carry out protection activities, particularly where State institutions are insufficient. I therefore commend the ongoing efforts to bring all components of the Mission, together with other partners, under a common framework for the protection of the civilian population. In this regard, deterrent operations by the MONUC military component will complement the monitoring, advocacy, assistance and support activities performed by humanitarian and human rights actors, and close coordination is essential in optimizing joint efforts.

80. The constitutional referendum is scheduled to be held before the expiration of the first extension of the transition on 31 December. Parliament is likely to have voted, by that time, for the second and final six-month extension of the transition, to allow the Independent Electoral Commission to organize the elections. In this context, I would recommend that the mandate of MONUC be extended for one year, until 1 October 2006, which would include the period up until the elections and the immediate post-transitional period following the installation of the new Government.

81. In conclusion, I would like to thank my Special Representative, William Lacy Swing, and the men and women of MONUC, the United Nations system and international partners for their untiring efforts, often under conditions of personal risk, to bring peace to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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