Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to agree to the request by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to delay its substantive review of the mandate of the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC), which expires on 15 February. How long this technical extension might be is still under discussion. The DRC government is still finalising its cabinet appointments and has argued that it needs more time to prepare its position on MONUC’s future role.
As a result, the Secretary-General’s report on MONUC’s post-transition role is also likely to be delayed.
An Arria formula meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo is possible for mid February.
On sanctions, the Group of Experts’ midterm report, including recommendations on economic measures, is now expected for February. While the report was presented to the Sanctions Committee in December, discussions in the Sanctions Committee were postponed to January. The Secretary-General’s report on the potential economic, humanitarian and social impact of economic sanctions requested in resolution 1698 is expected in February. No Council action on economic sanctions is expected in February, but movement on targeted sanctions is possible.
Key Recent Developments
On 9 January, the Council held consultations on the DRC. It was briefed by Under Secretaries-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno and Ibrahim Gambari. Guéhenno underlined major challenges still being confronted in implementing the transitional agenda such as governance and security sector reform. He warned that “early [international] disengagement following elections elsewhere resulted in the resumption of conflict a few years later, requiring a new, costlier international intervention”. The forthcoming local elections in the latter part of 2007 were stressed as a critical example of the need for continuing international engagement.
In late December, President Joseph Kabila’s alliance secured all key positions in the executive and the legislative branches of the new government. (Antoine Gizenga was appointed prime minister of the DRC and congressmen from Kabila’s alliance secured all the chairmanships of National Assembly committees.) The new senate was elected on 19 January with the majority also going to Kabila’s alliance. However, former presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba did secure a seat. Kabila’s strong control of the executive and the legislative branch (in addition to six out of nine provincial governorships elected on 27 January) suggests that the opposition may struggle to function as a significant political force.
On his first official trip to the DRC, the Secretary-General visited Kinshasa on 26-27 January and reportedly sought to allay concerns about imminent cutbacks on MONUC’s size. He also stressed the value of political diversity and the importance of a viable opposition.
Despite the political and electoral progress, violence resumed in eastern DRC, particularly involving forces loyal to former general Laurent Nkunda, who is on the DRC travel ban and assets-freeze list. With Rwandan mediation and MONUC assistance, agreement was reached on 18 January to integrate Nkunda’s militia into the army. There were reports that options on Nkunda’s future were being discussed, including exile. In early January, there were clashes involving militia loyal to Peter Karim, who in December had agreed to demobilise his militia and join the DRC army as a colonel. There were also reports of widespread abuse, including looting and raping, during riots that involved Congolese army troops complaining of unpaid salaries and mistreatment.
The key underlying issue is how best to assist the DRC to consolidate its state authority, reform the security sector, improve governance and begin the process of economic development. Council members are aware that success will involve a comprehensive, integrated strategy that avoids hasty cutbacks.
The immediate issue for now, however, is how long a delay in addressing the long term issues is reasonable. It seems that most members are comfortable with a technical rollover that allows sufficient time for consultations with the new government but does not send the wrong signals by postponing for too long a decision on MONUC’s future.
A practical issue is whether to renew the temporary additional contingents for MONUC authorised in resolutions 1621, 1635 and 1736. In this regard, the fact that the electoral process will not be finalised until the local elections are complete is a relevant factor. On the other hand, the ever-present US concern to keep down expenditures on MONUC may also emerge as an issue.
In this post-transition context, an important issue will also be how best to proceed with sanctions, particularly economic measures. This is another issue in which the views of the new government will be sought. (As experience with Liberia last year demonstrates, the Council is likely to take a cautious approach to this issue.)
A related issue is whether to move on with the lists of targeted sanctions envisaged in resolutions 1649 and 1698. (Members have formally received proposed names from the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.)
Positions on MONUC’s future are unlikely to emerge until the Secretary-General’s recommendations and the new government’s position become clear. Most Council members already anticipate strong support for maintaining MONUC’s size, at least in the short run. Most members also seem concerned about the need to avoid a repeat of the Burundi precedent, in which the newly elected government requested in November 2005 that the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) be withdrawn within one year. (Since ONUB’s withdrawal, there have been heightened concerns about human rights, governance and long-term stability.)
There is not much enthusiasm among Council members for economic measures, especially in the post-election environment. Most did not support the Group of Experts’ recommendations (which seem to have included sanctions on the basis of violations of Congolese law), feeling that the Group did not consult sufficiently with the government and went beyond the Council’s original request in resolution 1698. Most instead are sympathetic to the view that improving resources control should be the responsibility of the Congolese government. However, because of the potential impact of natural resources on security issues, there is likely to be an interest in continuing to monitor developments and asking the Secretary-General to keep the Council informed.
Some are open to increasing the list of individuals subject to targeted sanctions, particularly as envisaged by resolution 1698 against individuals responsible for recruiting child combatants.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
|Other Relevant Documents|
Other Relevant Facts
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission|
|William Lacy Swing (US)|
|Size, Composition and Cost of Mission|
|30 November 1999 to present, mandate expires on 15 February 2007|