The top United Nations envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping mission there (MONUC) met today with the country’s president today to discuss the violence in the troubled North Kivu province.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, William Lacy Swing, and General Boubacar Gueye conferred with President Joseph Kabila in Goma, in the north-east, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York.
They discussed the ongoing military standoff between Government forces, known as FARDC, and dissident soldiers led by renegade General Laurent Nkunda.
Following the meeting, Mr. Swing issued a statement also on behalf of the ambassadors of South Africa, Belgium, United States, France and the United Kingdom voicing full support for the democratically-elected Government of President Kabila “as well as his right and his duty to protect and to assure the security of all the citizens of the DRC.”
It further called for all dissident fighters to join the retraining programme and for regional actors to support the DRC’s reconstruction. In addition, the statement voiced concern about the humanitarian situation and urged all warring parties to provide full access too all relief agencies seeking to help the affected civilian populations.
Meanwhile, the UN mission this weekend voiced its continued support for FARDC as part of its mandate to help the Government restore and extend its authority throughout the country.
In a statement, MONUC urged all dissident troops to immediately join the “brassage” retraining programme for ex-combatants to join integrated FARDC brigades. The mission and the Government have “already made the necessary arrangements including reception sites and transport.”
MONUC also appealed for the protection of civilians and expressed concern over the displacements of people – estimated by the UN to be at 700,000 in North Kivu – fleeing the conflict.
In a recent interview, General Gueye noted that UN peacekeepers have evacuated wounded FARDC forces and have transported their reinforcements and ammunitions. He also said that blue helmets – for whom finding a solution to the crisis is a top priority – are coordinating with humanitarian partners on the ground.