The capacity of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to fulfil its mandate rests on “persistent engagement” with the authorities, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the Mission, Martin Kobler, told the Security Council today.
“The success of our mandate rests on a continued, constructive, partnership with the Government,” in particular regarding the security situation in the East and the electoral process.
On the security situation, there is “a ray of hope on one of the front lines”, he said, describing ongoing military cordon and search operations conducted by the national Congolese army (FARDC) supported by MONUSCO forces against the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri (FPRI).
“While the priority is to ensure that the group disarmed voluntarily, the use of force proved inevitable after the lapse of three consecutive deadlines,” he explained.
However, Mr. Kobler said, joint operations against the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) in North Kivu, South Kivu and Katanga had been at a standstill for five months. While the Congolese Government had made great strides in the past decade in restoring security, the population in East lived at the mercy of a number of armed groups, he explained.
Despite the progress in dislodging the FDLR from some of its strongholds, the FARDC was finding it difficult to consolidate its hold in liberated areas, he said, adding that paralysis had cascaded into other fields of operation. “Waiting is not an option,” he said.
DRC will hold presidential and legislative elections in November 2016, which under the imperatives of a Security Council resolution must be transparent, credible and respectful of the Constitution and the electoral calendar. The responsibility for such elections, however, ultimately rested with the Government and a number of actions were required, Mr. Kobler noted.
“Urgent needs include a budget and a realistic electoral calendar. The voters’ registry need to be updated and political space must be given to the opposition and civil society,” the Special Representative noted. Welcoming President Joseph Kabila’s initiative to reach out to a wide range of stakeholders to ensure consensus, he underlined that such consultations should not delay the elections.
While there had been progress in the fight against sexual violence in the country, violence against women and girls remained endemic, deplored Mr. Kobler. “We must ensure that the women’s bodies are not used as battlegrounds in never-ending wars,” he said, stressing the need to ensure victims had access to justice.