Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
A Council mission will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in June and reinforce the need for the 30 July elections to proceed smoothly and fairly. A briefing and a report are expected to follow.
Members are expected, at least in the period before the elections, to favour political solutions to the problem of foreign fighters in the DRC, rather than mandating the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC) to disarm foreign irregulars forcibly or conduct operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). But any discussions of the Secretary-General’s report under resolution 1649 are expected to be postponed till after the Council mission.
The Council is expected to confirm an extension for the additional MONUC police under resolution 1621 and troops under resolution 1635 and those from the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB), all deployed in Katanga for the elections.
Discussions are also expected to include the possibility of targeted sanctions under resolution 1649.
MONUC’s post-election strategy is likely to be in the minds of Council members.
Other possible options, not necessarily under consideration at this point, include:
Starting discussions on MONUC’s post-election strategy in the context of the upcoming visiting mission;
Including in it discussions (i) on the future of security sector reform, and (ii) on Uganda’s request that MONUC conducts operations against the LRA and the request of the Tripartite Plus One Joint Commission (comprising the DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi) that the mission forcibly disarms irregular combatants; and
Engaging Rwanda more closely in creating conditions for the return of rank-and-file fighters.
The key issues before the Council are:
Support for the timely holding of the elections and the conclusion of the transitional period.
The challenges faced by MONUC and the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) in effectively putting an end to foreign armed groups.
MONUC’s post-election mandate and size. A key point is the challenge of security sector reform in creating an efficient FARDC.
FARDC’s lack of capability and discipline, as well as widespread violations of human rights.
The lack of incentives for foreign combatants, particularly the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), to repatriate. (Many commanders are either subject to sanctions or wanted for genocide. A related issue is Rwanda’s mixed signals regarding amnesty and reintegration. Combatants fear arrest back home and many have ties in the DRC.)
Imposing sanctions under resolution 1649 against commanders of foreign and Congolese armed groups, a measure requested by the Tripartite Commission and recommended by the Secretary-General.
MONUC is mainly involved in election support and in action against irregular armed groups in the Kivus and Ituri, particularly through joint operations with the FARDC and voluntary disarmament. At the time of writing the regular MONUC report (due late May) was expected.
The additional police and troops approved in September and October 2005 are required under resolutions 1621 and 1635 to be repatriated by 1 July at the latest. (At the time the resolutions were adopted it was thought that the DRC elections would be in June.)
Uganda has made several requests for MONUC and the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to take action specifically against the LRA. Uganda also threatened in October to intervene in the DRC. Kinshasa has rejected further Ugandan requests for entering Congolese territory, but there were complaints from the DRC in late April considered “credible” by MONUC that Ugandan forces had entered Congolese territory uninvited.
In his report on foreign armed groups in the DRC requested by resolution 1649, the Secretary-General indicated that dealing with such groups is primarily a responsibility of governments, with MONUC’s support particularly to the extension of Kinshasa’s authority and to regional cooperation. But the report also highlighted deficiencies in the FARDC that may have a significant impact over MONUC’s exit strategy.
The Secretariat has indicated that MONUC’s first priority is the Congolese elections, and thus forcibly disarming those armed groups in response to regional requests would not be possible at this time. It has also indicated that UNMIS does not have enough capability to combat LRA forces, against which the preferred course of action would be to improve information-sharing (with MONUC and UNMIS support) and regional coordination.
The issue of foreign armed groups is of particular concern to Council members, especially the UK, France and Tanzania. But members are also sensitive to the Secretariat’s concern with MONUC’s capabilities and the importance of concentrating on the elections right now. And African members seem to support a larger role for regional mechanisms such as the Great Lakes Summit, expected for after the DRC elections.
Regarding the sanctions regime, there is support in the Council for new individual sanctions against commanders of irregular armed groups in the DRC.
Current concerns in the DRC include the possibility of election-motivated violence. The activities of Congolese militias in the east and Katanga, as well as human rights violations by the FARDC also remain an important MONUC focus.
The main opposition party has boycotted the elections, and rebel field commanders are still operative despite militias being required to disarm and either reintegrate into civilian life or enter security forces. A positive signal came in May with the surrender of 250 Katangese Mayi-Mayi and their prominent leader Kyungu Mutanga, known as Gédéon.
Some commanders will be handed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the violence in Ituri. Such was the case with Thomas Lubanga, who in March became the first-ever suspect in ICC custody when he was handed over by the Congolese government.
Berlin is considering referring the case of FDLR leader Ignace Murwanashyaka, arrested after the imposition of individual Council sanctions last year, to the ICC. The Court has moreover received a referral from the Central African Republic against Congolese Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission|
|William Lacy Swing (US)|
|Size and Composition of Mission|
|1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $1,153.89 million (gross)|
|30 November 1999 to present|
International Crisis Group, “Congo’s Elections: Making or Breaking the Peace“, Africa Report, No. 108 (27 April 2006)
MONUC, “The Human Rights Situation in April 2006” (18 May 2006)