July 2016 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 July 2016
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AFRICA

DRC

Expected Council Action

In July, the Security Council will be briefed by Maman Sambo Sidikou, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

The mandate of MONUSCO expires on 31 March 2017.

Key Recent Developments

On the political front, the presidential elections scheduled for November continue to be a deeply divisive issue in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), given the absence of an agreed electoral calendar, a budget for the elections or a national dialogue to reach agreement on these questions. As preparations are at a standstill, it seems highly unlikely that presidential elections can or will be held on time, thus leaving President Joseph Kabila in power after the second of the two terms that he is allowed under the constitution expires at the end of 2016. On 11 May, the DRC Constitutional Court decided that the constitution permits the president to remain in office until the installation of the newly elected president. Opposition leaders view the decision as “unconstitutional” and continue to maintain that Kabila lacks authority to remain in power beyond his current term.

Tensions are also high regarding the ability of opposition parties to participate in political activities leading up to the elections amid an atmosphere of increased harassment and human rights violations, mostly against opposition members, civil society representatives and journalists.

Resolution 2277 of 30 March, which renewed MONUSCO’s mandate, expressed “deep concern at increased restrictions of the political space in the DRC”. Notwithstanding the logistical impracticality of timely elections, the Council stressed “the crucial importance” of holding the presidential and legislative elections by November 2016, in accordance with the constitution.

While attention is focused on the political situation, rebel groups continue to spread violence in eastern DRC. The UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) documented 199 victims of human rights abuses committed by armed groups in eastern DRC in May, 26 of them killed.

On 23 June, the US imposed sanctions on Celestin Kanyama, police commissioner of Kinshasa, for alleged involvement in dozens of deaths and other actions that have created a “climate of fear” over the past three years.

The operations of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) against the Hutu rebel group Force Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) continue, with a significant impact on FDLR. However, the movements of the Hutu population as a result of the operation have given rise to ethnic tensions with other groups, producing violence and casualties. On 14 June, tensions in Buleusa, North Kivu, between Hutus and Kobo and Nande communities resulted in the death of four Hutus and the destruction of hundreds of Hutu huts, according to Samuel Ntaota, a spokesman for the local Hutu community. On 17 June, MONUSCO troops from the Force Intervention Brigade killed seven and injured 11 Kobo and Nande militiamen in an operation to counter efforts  to prevent aid workers from giving out food to Hutu civilians in a displacement camp in Buleusa.

Sanctions-Related Developments

The annual report of the Group of Experts assisting the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee was presented to the Council by the Chair of the Committee, Ambassador Amr Aboulatta (Egypt), on 16 June.

The Council adopted resolution 2293 on 23 June, renewing the DRC sanctions regime until 1 July 2017 and the mandate of the Group of Experts until 1 August 2017. The resolution requests the Committee to report orally, through its Chair, at least once a year to the Council on the state of the overall work of the Committee and encourages the Chair to hold regular briefings for all interested member states. (For more information, see our What’s in Blue story of 22 June.)

On 7 June, the Committee met regarding DRC-bound cargo that included explosives and detonators aboard a ship sailing from Izmir, Turkey. Greek authorities confiscated the cargo in March. In response to the Committee, Turkey stated that the cargo was meant for a private company for construction purposes. The Committee has written to the DRC, requesting information about the destination of the shipment, but it has yet to receive a reply. The Turkish response raises questions regarding equipment with dual military and civilian usage, which is not addressed in the sanctions regime, and no decision has been taken yet as to how to instruct Greek authorities regarding the cargo.

Key Issues

A key issue for the Council is the political tension surrounding the electoral calendar and Kabila’s possible attempt to remain in power, with the lack of a political resolution in sight.

The continued violence by rebel groups against the population of North Kivu remains a serious threat to peace and security. This violence may worsen if political instability ensues in western DRC.

Wider regional stability in the Great Lakes region and its relation to the DRC are also matters of concern, in particular the continuing political turmoil in Burundi. (According to the Group of Experts, Burundian rebels continue to operate in the DRC, some being trained and equipped in Rwanda.)

Options

The Council could adopt a resolution or presidential statement:

  • condemning human rights abuses related to the pre-election developments and urging the government to ensure that free, fair and credible elections are held as soon as possible;
  • calling on opposition parties to enter immediately into a national dialogue to reach consensus on a new and viable electoral calendar so that elections could be held on time or as soon as possible thereafter;
  • urging the Secretary-General to appoint a mediator to help facilitate a DRC national dialogue and support the work of AU Special Envoy Edem Kodjo to facilitate such dialogue;
  • calling on all political actors to abide by the constitution and its term limits;
  • threatening to impose sanctions on actors who destabilise the DRC by contributing to electoral violence or incitement to violence; and
  • calling on neighbouring states to cease assistance to rebel groups operating in the region.

The Council (or a representative group of Council members) could also consider visiting the country during the electoral period to take stock of the situation and deliver a strong political message to interlocutors.

Council Dynamics

Council members all share concerns over the political tensions surrounding the issue of elections and fear potential destabilisation in the country if presidential elections are not held as soon as feasible. However, the issues that arose during the negotiations over resolution 2293 show that it will be difficult to find a common approach in the Council towards resolving the political stalemate. Much like the divisions among Council members regarding President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term in Burundi, some view this issue mainly as an internal constitutional matter that should be dealt with through local institutions and through dialogue among political actors. Other Council members are of the view that addressing actions that seem to have been taken to override the constitutional order and human rights abuses related to the political process are integral to solving the crisis.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions
23 June 2016 S/RES/2293 This resolution renewed the DRC sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts.
30 March 2016 S/RES/2277 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of MONUSCO for a year.
Security Council Letter
16 June 2016 S/2016/542 This was a letter from the DRC to the president of the Council stating that the DRC will investigate reports by the Group of Experts about FARDC officers’ involvement in massacres in the Beni area.
Sanctions Committee Document
23 May 2016 S/2016/466 This was the report of the Group of Experts assisting the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee.
Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Maman Sambo Sidikou (Niger)

MONUSCO Force Commander

Lieutenant General Derick Mbuyiselo Mgwebi (South Africa)

MONUSCO Size, Composition and Cost of Mission

Strength as of 31 March 2016: 16,936 troops (including 456 military observers and 1,245 police), 816 international civilian personnel, 2,654 local civilian staff and 399 UN volunteers.

Approved budget (1 July 2015-30 June 2016): $1.33 billion

Mission duration: July 2010 to present