The Security Council today supported the next phase of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a move that involves the deployment of UN troops and military observers towards the east of the country.
In a statement read out by its President, Ambassador Richard Ryan of Ireland, the Council reminded the parties to the Congolese conflict that it was up to them to create the conditions needed for the start of MONUC's third phase by fully implementing their commitments. The Council would decide on the future of phase III after ascertaining that the parties were committed to continuing to move the peace process forward
In the same statement, the Council expressed concern at the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation and reiterated its call for all parties to address rights abuses in government-controlled territories, as well as areas under the control of the Front de Libération du Congo (FLC) and the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD).
The Council issued its statement following meetings that included a briefing by Amos Namanga Ngongi, Kofi Annan's Special Representative to the Congo, who introduced the Secretary-General's latest report on MONUC. That report contains recommendations for the Mission's next phase involving the total withdrawal of all foreign forces from Congolese territory, and the disarmament, demobilization and repatriation of non-signatory armed groups. The report also contains a concept of operations for MONUC, for approval by the Council.
Briefing the 15-member security body on events since the report's issue on 16 October, Mr. Ngongi said the inter-Congolese dialogue, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 15 to 21 October, was attended by only 80 of the expected 300 participants and did not lead to agreement on substantive issues. The Dialogue will resume in South Africa at a date to be arranged, he said.
On the subject of demobilization, the Special Representative said that, as a result of further discussions with the Kinshasa Government, MONUC had sent another team to Kamina this morning to continue efforts to demobilize and repatriate the 3,000 Rwandan former combatants said to be there.
During today's debate, all Council members welcomed and supported the proposals in Mr. Annan's report, but many stressed that success in the DRC did not depend solely on efforts by the UN but lay in the hands of the parties to the conflict. Many speakers said the presence of armed groups was one of the most inherent challenges to the operational phase that was about to begin and called on the parties to the Lusaka Peace Agreement to provide information on those armed groups and to also cease providing support to such groups. Nearly all speakers stressed the need for a speedy demilitarization of Kisangani. Some said the disregard for directives to that effect was now "flagrant."