With peace returning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), President Joseph Kabila today called for a reappraisal of the United Nations mission which had helped to bring stability to the vast country, moving its focus away from peacekeeping to economic development.
“It is imperative that the role of MONUSCO adapt in its vision and action on the ground,” he told the General Assembly on the second day of its annual general debate, using the acronym for the UN peacekeeping mission, which currently has some 19,000 uniformed personnel on the ground.
Since 1999, under various names, the UN mission has overseen the DRC’s emergence from years of civil war and factional chaos, culminating most notably in 2006 with the first democratic elections in over four decades, although fighting continued sporadically in the east, where the bulk of UN forces are deployed.
New general elections are scheduled for November and Mr. Kabila said his Government was taking all steps necessary to ensure a transparent and credible vote in an atmosphere of peace.
“In this phase of consolidation MONUSCO must progressively abandon the strict framework of peacekeeping operations to help the country progress in its development and economic regeneration,” he added, citing among the “enormous challenges” still facing the DRC the need to maintain its growth rate in the face of the global economic crisis.
Other challenges include army, police and justice reform, the return home of internally displaced persons (IDPs), and that of refugees to their countries of origin, and the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers used by various military group.
In June, the Security Council extended MONUSCO for another year after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Roger Meece, the mission head, reported that there have been significant improvements in security, although many challenges remained before stability could be restored in conflict-affected areas, especially in the north and east.