Democratic Republic of the Congo Briefings and Press Statement
Today (22 August) Council members received two briefings from Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond Mulet on ongoing clashes between the 23 March Movement (M23) and the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) in Pinga, North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which began yesterday. A draft press statement circulated by France this afternoon has been put under silence till 7:30 tonight.
The briefing this morning was at the request of the Secretariat and took place under “any other business” following the Sudan-South Sudan consultations. It seems that during the briefing Mulet confirmed that clashes had taken place but that it was unclear who had initiated the fighting. He also confirmed that one mortar had hit Rwandan territory and that UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) installations had come under attack, possibly from the M23. It seems that Rwanda, however, has accused the DRC of firing the rocket, calling it a “provocative act”. (When two mortar shells landed in its territory on 15 July, Rwanda sent a letter to the Council calling on it to take appropriate measures.) The second briefing by Mulet took place during “any other business” in the afternoon to apparently update members on the ongoing clashes.
Media reports indicate that MONUSCO activated its contingency plan in eastern DRC to protect civilians, stepped up foot patrols and sent in military helicopters yesterday.
The draft press statement does not make reference to any specific attacks in the DRC but apparently condemns more generally attacks against civilians and MONUSCO attributing them to the M23 rebel group. It also reiterates the Council’s previous demands for all armed groups to stop violent behavior as well as its willingness to adopt additional targeted sanctions. It seems reference is also made to efforts being made by MONUSCO to protect civilians.
It is unclear if there will be easy agreement on this press statement. It was unclear at press time if the language in the draft press statement currently under silence would be acceptable to all Council members or if further negotiations will be needed tomorrow. (In late May a draft press statement initiated by France, which among other things condemned recent M23 attacks, was dropped after Rwanda argued that it was overly focused on the M23 while ignoring recent attacks by the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda.)