Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), which expires on 30 September. The issue of the long-term future of MONUC will linger in the background, but is unlikely to be seriously addressed until after the presidential run-off elections in October. A simple extension of the mandate seems likely, but it is still unclear for how long.
Renewal of the mandate of MONUC’s temporary reinforcements, along with that of the troops borrowed from the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) and of the European Union Force in the DRC (EUFOR R.D.Congo) until after the second ballot is also expected.
The renewed potential for tension is likely to prompt the Council to continue to closely follow events in the DRC throughout September and October. In the event of further violence, a Council statement should be expected.
Other issues, such as foreign armed groups and security sector reform, are likely to be considered only after the run-off elections, possibly in the context of discussions on MONUC’s post-election strategy.
Listing individuals for targeted sanctions is also an issue that will continue to be on the minds of some Council members, but it is unclear whether progress will be achieved in September.
Key Recent Developments
Elections in the DRC took place on 30 July. President Joseph Kabila gained about 45 percent of the votes, and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba 20 percent. The run-off is scheduled for 29 October.
The first presidential ballot showed a divide between eastern and western provinces of the DRC. Ethnicity and language seem to have been behind much of the support for Kabila in the more populous east and Bemba in the west, especially Kinshasa.
Tensions arose following logistical difficulties during the counting and following complaints of fraud from almost all contenders and hate messages in the media. This culminated in open fighting in Kinshasa between militias loyal to Bemba and Kabila when the result was announced. EUFOR R.D.Congo reserve forces, already pre-deployed in Gabon, were rushed to the Congolese capital on 22 August.
Eventually, under MONUC leadership, the situation was stabilised. But in response to this development, the Council adopted a press statement on 22 August expressing serious concern about the clashes and demanding restraint and immediate implementation of the ceasefire.
The final results of the parliamentary elections are expected by 4 September.
continue work on a list of individual violators; and
start some preliminary thinking on a more integrated, forward-looking strategy that would include not just sanctions, MONUC’s mandate and costs, but a discussion of the spectrum of the DRC’s needs after the transitional phase and what role the Council could play in conjunction with MONUC, donors and stakeholders.
The key issue right now is how best to ensure that the transitional period is finalised, particularly given the renewed potential for election-related violence.
MONUC’s future is likely to become an issue after the election. But given the recent events in Kinshasa, and bearing in mind the Council’s recent experience with Burundi, there will be nervousness about acquiescing too quickly in phasedown suggestions, whether from within the Council or from the newly elected government.
A further issue that may arise stems from uncertainty as to when the government will be able to be seated. There are problems with interpreting the constitution as to whether the national assembly alone or the full parliament-including the senate-is competent to appoint the prime minister, who will then appoint the cabinet. If it is the full parliament, the situation becomes much more complex since the senate will only be elected by provincial assemblies reportedly on 29 December.
A set of related concerns also looms large:
security sector reform, and the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration or repatriation of Congolese and foreign armed groups;
conduct and discipline of Congolese and MONUC forces (especially after reports of child prostitution involving MONUC personnel);
lists of targeted sanctions; and
illegal exploitation of natural resources and sanctions enforcement.
The Council is not divided on the issue of renewing MONUC and other mandates until after the election process is finalised. Some members will be pushing for a six-month renewal, bearing in mind the precedent in Liberia.
Most members expect that the future of MONUC is likely to create divisions linked to pressures for containing peacekeeping costs.
Some are conscious that sustained commitment will be needed for the long-term. They believe that MONUC should only be modified after the transitional phase is over and are concerned with the possibility of pressure for downsizing MONUC too quickly. This view seems to have gained momentum since the experiences in Haiti and, more recently, in Timor-Leste.
Positions on the post-election period are still being formulated, especially given the current volatile situation and the potential for future violence. Should this trend continue, the position of members interested in reducing MONUC’s size and cost will become difficult. Council members are also likely to bear in mind the precedent in the less complex situation in Liberia, in which the Council displayed a significant degree of caution with downsizing and postponed any decisions until months after the conclusion of the transitional phase.
Other members are interested in the substance of MONUC’s future mandate and the mission’s post-election priorities. Key aspects would be MONUC’s role in security sector reform and curbing illegal armed groups. There is an interest in a re-configuration of MONUC’s operational priorities along those lines as soon as possible after the elections.
In general, members are sensitive to the view that decisions regarding MONUC’s future should be taken as part of a broad, coherent strategy for UN involvement in the DRC.
The 18 July report of the Group of Experts recommended that the Council declare illegal exploitation of natural resources a sanctionable act. It also noted difficulties with cooperation from Uganda.
The Council adopted a landmark resolution on sanctions on 31 July that, inter alia:
strengthened targeted sanctions through the inclusion of political and military leaders responsible for recruiting children and individuals who target children in conflict;
directed special attention to the financing of illegal armed groups and the illegal exploitation of natural resources; and
expressly mentioned the issue of Uganda’s cooperation with the Group of Experts.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Presidential Statement|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
28 August 2006
|The International Criminal Court Prosecutor formally charged Ituri militia leader Thomas Lubanga with recruiting child soldiers.|
|20 August 2006||Final results of the first round of presidential elections were posted.|
|31 July 2006||The Council strengthened the sanctions regime.|
|30 July 2006||Parliamentary polls and the first round of presidential elections took place.|
|10-12 June 2006||A Council mission visited the DRC ahead of the elections.|
For the full historical background, please refer to our April 2006 Forecast.
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission|
|William Lacy Swing (US)|
|MONUC Force Commander|
|Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye (Senegal)|
|Size, Composition and Cost of Mission|
|30 November 1999 to present, mandate expires on 30 September 2006|
|92, including 66 military personnel and nine military observers|
Useful Additional Sources
Elections and Security in Ituri: Stumbling Blocks and Opportunities for Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Forum on Early Warning & Early Response/Africa and Africa Initiative Program, 30 May 2006.