December 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 November 2006
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
The Council will pay close attention to post-election developments and potential violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in December. The new president is expected to be sworn in during the month. A Secretariat briefing is expected.

At the time of writing, the EU force (EUFOR RD Congo) is set to expire on 30 November, with a phased withdrawal in December. Renewal is not likely, but a serious deterioration of security could lead to reconsideration and also prompt a Council statement.

At press time, members seemed agreed on augmenting the UN Operation in the DRC (MONUC) until February, when it expires, by re-hatting troops borrowed from the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB).

The Group of Experts’ midterm report is due by 20 December. It will include recommendations on curbing the illegal use of natural resources to finance militias in the eastern DRC. It is unclear whether it will be discussed in December. Nor is it clear whether progress will be made on targeted sanctions.

Key Recent Developments
Results of the 29 October presidential elections indicated Joseph Kabila’s victory with 58 percent of the votes, but a continuing east-west divide. The coalition of his opponent, Jean-Pierre Bemba, coalition made several accusations of fraud, filing a challenge before the Supreme Court on 18 November. The Supreme Court decided on 27 November against Bemba’s complaints, thus maintaining the provisional results.

Tension marked the lead up to the decision, with an attack against the Court building on 21 November and an ultimatum from Kabila that Bemba’s forces withdraw from Kinshasa. But Bemba’s acknowledgement of defeat seems to have improved the situation. There were also clashes resulting in the displacement of about 2,000 civilians in western DRC alone and the take over of the eastern town of Sake by Congolese army deserters now loyal to rebel general Laurent Nkunda, promptly pushed off by MONUC.

The new government will not be fully in place until the prime minister is appointed by the parliament and the cabinet formed. Kabila has the support of the majority coalition in the National Assembly, but Bemba seems to have emerged as a political force with national projection. Accommodation among significant political actors following the positive example in Liberia earlier this year may emerge as a key theme in the months ahead.

Uncertainty surrounds the timing of the prime minister’s appointment. It is unclear whether it can be made by the National Assembly alone, or whether it requires the full parliament, including the Senate, which will be elected by provincial assemblies on 29 December.

Options
Should the situation deteriorate quickly, members may consider renewing EUFOR RD Congo, perhaps with a limited operational mandate beyond its withdrawal date in December.

Other options for December include:

  • further work on sanctions; and
  • continuing with preliminary, informal discussions on the longer term, post-election role for MONUC ahead of more in-depth discussions in January and February.

Key Issues
The key issue is still how best to ensure that the elections and the transitional process are finalised.

A consequential issue is how best to deal with the potential for violence until the new government is seated. Members are conscious of the difficult timing of EUFOR RD Congo’s withdrawal as well as the potential need for reinforcements.

Other issues in the minds of Council members include:

  • the future relationship among key Congolese political players;
  • the new government’s position vis-à-vis MONUC  (there is concern about the Burundian precedent, where the new government opposed the continuation of ONUB); and
  • the targeted sanctions list and the possibility of sanctions over natural resources.

Council and Wider Dynamics
There is unity within the Council on the need to keep the situation under close scrutiny given the huge potential for violence. As a result, agreement on re-hatting ONUB forces seems to have been fast, even from those traditionally concerned with MONUC’s size and cost.

Some members are already considering MONUC’s future, but divisions are unlikely to emerge until members prepare for wider discussions in February.

On sanctions lists, most members seem to expect in particular the UK, the US and France to propose names, but it is unclear if and when a proposal will come forward.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1711 (29 September 2006) extended MONUC until 15 February.
  • S/RES/1698 (31 July 2006) strengthened sanctions, expressed the intention to consider measures over natural resources, and renewed the sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts until 31 July 2007.
  • S/RES/1671 (25 April 2006) authorised the deployment of EUFOR.
 Latest Secretary-General’s Report
 Other
  • SC/8870 (17 November 2006) was a press statement calling on the candidates to refrain from violence.
  • S/2006/892 (15 November 2006) was the Secretary-General’s request for the re-hatting of ONUB forces as MONUC.
  • S/2006/525 (18 July 2006) was the latest report of the Group of Experts.

 

For the full historical background, please refer to our April, September and November 2006 Forecasts.

Other Relevant Facts

 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
  • Authorised strength: 17,000 military and 1,316 police
  • Strength as of 30 September 2006: 17,390 military and 1,107 police
  • Main troop contributors: Pakistan, India, Uruguay and South Africa
  • Cost: 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007: US$ 1.138 billion
 Duration
 30 November 1999 to present, mandate expires on 15 February 2007


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