November 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 October 2007
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
Council members will receive the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).  It is due by 15 November and expected to contain possible benchmarks for a drawdown of MONUC.  There is a possibility of discussions in informal consultations perhaps leading to a statement on the deteriorating situation in the eastern part of the country.  No action on the drawdown plan is likely in November although it is likely to be discussed at the experts’ level in anticipation of a draft resolution on renewal of MONUC’s mandate, which expires on 31 December.

Key Recent Developments
On 10 August the Council adopted resolution 1771 which extended sanctions and the mandate of the Group of Experts to 15 February and modified the arms embargo.  This exempted technical training and assistance “agreed to by the government” and intended to support police and army units integrating in North and South Kivu and Ituri provinces.  However, the embargo on supply of arms and related materiel to those provinces was retained.

In early September Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes visited the DRC to focus on the situation in the eastern part of the country.  On 11 September, he briefed the Council on his visit.  Four days previously, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations briefed the Council on the deteriorating situation in the east.  Following the meeting with Holmes, the Council issued a press statement expressing concern about clashes in North Kivu between the renegade elements loyal to Laurent Nkunda and the Armed Forces of the DRC (Forces armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, or FARDC), as well as the continuing activities of the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, or FDLR) and other illegal armed groups.  The statement expressed strong concern about continuing atrocities against civilians.  The Council also urged all parties to comply with international humanitarian law and to respect the ceasefire and initiate dialogue regarding the clashes in North Kivu.

The DRC government subsequently expressed surprise at the Council’s request that it begin dialogue with Nkunda and recalled that he was subject to the Council’s individual sanctions and called him “a war criminal.”  Council members are reported to have subsequently explained privately to the DRC that “dialogue” was not to be misconstrued to mean negotiations offering the same status to the rebels as legitimate actors.  Rather, what was being sought was a lasting political solution to the crisis through communication between the parties. 

On 27 August, a meeting (facilitated by the US) of officials from Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda was held in Kigali to consider regional security concerns, and to deliberate on possible joint operations to stem rebel activity in eastern DRC.  Dissident groups operating in eastern DRC include Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army and Hutu rebels living in exile since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  Ahead of the meeting, Rwanda on 15 August criticised the DRC for ceasing military operations against Hutu rebels that were said to be bolstering their position along the border.  The DRC government subsequently refuted the claim.  The foreign minister of Rwanda visited Kinshasa on 3 September, and afterwards a joint declaration on commitments regarding mutual security concerns was issued.

On 26 September, six people were killed in a gunfight between Ugandan and DRC troops near Lake Albert.  This marked the second time in two months that fighting had broken out between troops from the two countries.  The incident raised concern about tensions over the precise boundaries of the lake, which prospectors believe may have immense petroleum reserves and thus has assumed significant political and commercial importance.

Against a background of ongoing violent clashes between the government army and Nkunda’s forces, MONUC mediators announced on 6 September that a ceasefire had been brokered between the opposing parties, although there was concern that the belligerents were using the lull to strengthen their military positions.  Nkunda’s forces were reported to have resumed fighting with government forces two weeks after the ceasefire was negotiated.  On 8 October, Nkunda declared the truce nullified in the face of continuing violent clashes with government forces in eastern DRC. However, he proposed a truce on 10 October after suffering heavy losses and offered 500 of his troops for demobilisation-a gesture greeted with caution by Kinshasa. Nkunda later rejected the government’s ultimatum of 15 October to stop hostilities and integrate his forces into the army or face a fresh offensive, stating that his forces cannot give up arms without negotiations.  The ultimatum has since been extended to an unspecified date.

The Secretary-General reconstituted the membership of the Group of Experts. Only the aviation expert was retained.  It appears that certain Council members were influential in these changes because they had been unhappy with some elements of the Group’s recent reports.

In line with a request to him by the DRC government in March, the Secretary-General on 11 October requested the Council to authorise MONUC to provide full support to local elections in the DRC envisaged for the second half of 2008 and on the same scale as the national elections in 2006.

On 18 October Germain Katanga, former leader of an Ituri armed group (Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri, or FRPI) was handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the government in connection with the 25 February 2005 attack on UN peacekeepers in Ituri, which resulted in the death of nine peacekeepers.  Katanga had been in government custody since 2005. The ICC’s interest in Katanga is related to the Court’s investigation into atrocities committed in Ituri.  Katanga has been placed in the ICC detention centre in The Hague.

Key Issues
The key issue is the long-term future of MONUC as well as the deterioration in the security situation in eastern DRC.  Also there is lingering US concern to keep down MONUC expenditures, which may emerge as an issue.

Options
In view of continuing security tensions, the options for the Council could include:

  • calling for another briefing by the Secretariat if the security situation continues to deteriorate;
  • issuing either a presidential or press statement; and
  • keeping under review the Secretary-General’s report on setting out drawdown proposals in shaping the Council’s response, and asking delegation experts to take this into account when commencing preliminary thinking about MONUC’s mandate renewal in December.

Council Dynamics
Most Council members (including France, Belgium and South Africa) seem inclined to maintain MONUC’s size in the short term if there is no substantial improvement in the fragile security situation.  The US has been relatively quiet on the drawdown of MONUC in recent months, apparently because of the fragile security situation. It may prefer to push for enhancing the capacity of the new DRC government to effectively control and secure its territory. 

There is also concern on the need to avoid a repeat of Timor-Leste and Burundi, where early withdrawal of UN peacekeepers resulted in deteriorating security and heightened concerns about long-term stability, human rights and governance.  Furthermore, the Secretary-General’s request for MONUC support to the 2008 local elections on the same scale as that for the 2006 national elections has given added impetus for circumspection concerning MONUC’s future.

Council members expect the Secretary-General’s report to provide a perspective for the Council on an eventual exit strategy for MONUC, and possible signals to the DRC government on clear benchmarks that must be met along the way.  This is likely to receive extensive consideration during deliberations in December ahead of the expiration of MONUC’s mandate.  The submission of the upcoming report also appears to have been timed to provide the Council ample opportunity to consider it before the renewal of MONUC’s mandate, when a reference to MONUC’s drawdown is highly likely.

Lead countries in the Council on the DRC issue are Belgium, France and African members.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1771 (10 August 2007) renewed the sanctions regime, with some modifications to the arms embargo, and the mandate of the Group of Experts until 15 February 2008.
  • S/RES/1756 (15 May 2007) renewed MONUC until 31 December.
  • S/RES/1698 (31 July 2006), 1649 (21 December 2005) and 1596 (18 April 2005) strengthened sanctions.
 Selected Presidential Statement
  • S/PRST/2007/28 (23 July 2007) expressed concern about the deteriorating situation in the east of the DRC, especially North and South Kivu.
 Selected Press Statement
  • SC/9113 (12 September 2007) expressed concern about violent clashes in eastern DRC.
 Selected Secretary-General’s Report
  • S/2007/156 (20 March 2007) was the latest MONUC report.
 Selected Secretary-General’s Letter
  • S/2007/586 (2 October 2007) was the Secretary-General’s letter informing the Council of his appointment of the latest team of Group of Experts.
 Selected Letters from the DRC to the Council
  • S/2007/550 (18 September 2007) was a letter urging the Council to ask MONUC to help end impunity in eastern DRC.
  • S/2007/543 (17 September 2007) was a letter containing the government’s reaction to the Council’s press statement on the DRC.
  • S/2007/443(18 July 2007) was the DRC government’s request for a review of the arms embargo on the country.
 Selected Group of Experts’ Reports
  • S/2007/423 (16 July 2007) was the final report submitted pursuant to resolution 1698.
  • S/2007/40   (25 January 2007) was the interim report submitted pursuant to resolution 1698.
 Security Council Mission Briefing
  • S/PV.5706 (26 June 2007) was a briefing by the heads of the Council’s mission to Africa in June.

Other Relevant Facts

 Group of Experts
  • Abdoulaye Cissoko (Mali, aviation expert)
  • Caty Clemént (Belgium, regional expert)
  • Amadou Hamidou (Niger, customs expert)
  • Ramón Miranda Ramos (Spain, arms expert and coordinator of the Group)
  • Gregory Salter (United Kingdom, finance expert)
 Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission (MONUC)
 William Lacy Swing (US), to be succeeded by Alan Doss (UK)
 MONUC Force Commander
 Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye (Senegal)
 Size Composition and Cost of Mission
  • Strength as of 30 September 2007: 17,361 military and 991 police
  • Main troop contributors: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uruguay
  • Cost: 1 July 2007-30 June 2008 $1,166.72 million
 Duration
 30 November 1999 to present, mandate expires on 31 December 2007

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