In an effort to sustain the momentum of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended that the Security Council authorize the United Nations mission in the country to move into the next phase of its operations and begin the process of disarming combatants.
In his latest report to the Council on the activities of the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), the Secretary-General says that the main tasks in the next stage would include the total withdrawal of all foreign forces in the DRC and the disarmament and demobilization of the armed groups, as well as finding lasting solutions for these groups involving the repatriation, resettlement and reintegration of the ex-combatants into society.
The Secretary-General stresses that the parties to the Lusaka Agreement must engage in a genuine and constructive dialogue and that their performance "will obviously be a factor" in the pace of the UN's deployment forward and in the contribution it can make. "In this respect, I also count on the continuing support of interested Member States to encourage, assist and, where necessary, prod the parties to pursue the peace process resolutely."
While MONUC is ready to assume a coordinating role in organizing the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration effort, it has neither the means nor the mandate to undertake many of the practical tasks associated with it, Mr. Annan writes. Therefore the challenges ahead and their complexity will require that the UN's organizations and programmes, as well as the Bretton Woods institutions, enhance their coordination and assist each other's efforts in practical ways.
On the political front, the Secretary-General expresses the hope that the formal start of the inter-Congolese dialogue, which began on 15 October in Addis Ababa, will enable the sides, among them political parties and civil society, to address the key questions that need to be answered as they contemplate a return to peace. Those issues include national reconciliation, the nature of governance in their country, relations with their neighbours to the east and to the south, and relations between different communities within the country itself.
"The most important tasks, however, still lie ahead," Mr. Annan says. "The Congolese parties must demonstrate their continuing commitment to the dialogue and cooperate fully with the facilitator and his team. At the same time, the support and assistance of the international community will continue to be needed."