Elections and governance now key issues in DR of Congo but security inadequate – Annan

28 March 2005

Pointing to upcoming elections and subsequent national stability as the key issues facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended extending the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission there for another year and has called for troop deployment in two more provinces.

The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) is playing a central role in supporting the country's Transitional Government through the electoral process and in ensuring stable governance thereafter, he says in his 17th report to the UN Security Council on the DRC, covering major developments there since the end of December.

"It is on this basis that I recommend that the Security Council consider extending the mandate of MONUC for a period of one year, until 31 March 2006," he says in the report.

He recalls that last August he had recommended adding 13,100 to MONUC's authorized 10,800 troops, thus forming five provincial brigades for Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, Katanga and the Kasaïs. The Council, however, added just 5,900 personnel, thereby leaving out the last two provinces.

As elections approach, "the provinces of Katanga and the Kasaïs are considered areas of extremely high potential risk," he says, adding that he plans to present a special report to the Council, including an update on the electoral process "and any outstanding political, operational and security requirements to see the process through to success."

Rwandan Hutu rebels of the ex-FAR Interahamwe are a serious security threat to the local population and MONUC "will not hesitate to take the action necessary against those foreign armed groups in order ensure the security of civilians and United Nations personnel in the Kivus and to put an end to the egregious violations of human rights that they continue to commit."

Meanwhile, the greatest concern for security stems from the continuous of lack of payment for soldiers and policemen, he says. "This creates a potentially volatile situation, with the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo taking their frustrations to the streets and the Government's security apparatus remaining weak."

He is calling on the international community to assist in training and equipping DRC army (FARDC) troops to help them play a role in disarming foreign troops and in providing security for the elections.

With MONUC's reputation severely damaged by acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, concrete measures have been put in place to prevent and investigate such abuses, discipline those responsible and support the victims, he says, and these measures are being replicated in other UN peacekeeping operations.

 

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