29/6/2005
Press Release
SC/8430


Security Council

5218th Meeting (PM)*


SECURITY COUNCIL NOTES DECISION IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

 

TO EXTEND TRANSITIONAL PERIOD UNTIL END OF 2005


Permitted Under Peace Agreement, Transitional Constitution;

Aims to Allow Time to Strengthen Security, Logistics for Elections


Underlining the importance of elections as the foundation for the longer-term restoration of peace and stability, national reconciliation, and rule of law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council today took note of the Parliament’s decision of 17 June to extend for six months, renewable once, the transitional period that was to expire on 30 June, thereby allowing elections to take place in “satisfactory logistic and security conditions”.


Through a presidential statement read out by Michel Duclos (France), whose delegation holds the presidency for June, the Council took note of the decision made by the two Houses of Parliament in line with the terms of the 2002 Global and All-Inclusive Agreement and article 196 of the Transitional Constitution.  The agreement stipulated that the transition, which was to culminate in elections in June 2005, could be extended for two six-month periods, if technical preparations for elections were delayed.


The Council called on all Congolese parties to respect this decision, and it encouraged them to mobilize for and conduct the electoral process in a peaceful manner.  It, meanwhile, urged the candidates and political parties to refrain from any action that might disrupt this process, in line with the recommendation made in the Secretary-General’s special report on the elections, dated 26 May. 


The Council also urged all parties and transitional institutions to make every effort to respect scrupulously the timetable for polls developed by the Independent Electoral Commission, and, in particular, to begin preparations for the referendum on the draft Constitution as soon as possible.


In a related provision, it welcomed progress made so far in elections preparation, particularly the adoption and promulgation of the referendum law, and the start of voter registration in Kinshasa, which marked an historic and important step in the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo


The Council called on the transitional authorities to accelerate those reforms remaining to be carried out, in particular drafting of the electoral law and integration of the security forces.


Further to the text, the Council called on the Congolese authorities to exercise efficient, transparent and comprehensive control over State finances, ensuring that there is no impunity for those responsible for acts of embezzlement or corruption.


In that regard, it encouraged the Congolese authorities to continue consultations with their international partners, in full respect for the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to put in place credible arrangements to strengthen support for good governance and transparent economic management.


The meeting, which began at 5:23 p.m., was adjourned at 5:32 p.m.


Presidential Statement


The full text of the statement, to be issued as S/PRST/2005/27, reads as follows:


“The Security Council takes note of the joint decision, reached by the two Houses of the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 17 June 2005, to extend for a period of six months, renewable once, the transitional period that was to expire on 30 June 2005, in accordance with the provisions of the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement signed in Pretoria on 17 December 2002 and with article 196 of the Transitional Constitution.


“The Security Council calls on all Congolese parties to respect this decision, which aims to allow the elections provided for by this Agreement to take place in satisfactory logistic and security conditions.  It encourages the Congolese people to mobilize for and conduct the electoral process in a peaceful manner, and urges in particular the candidates and political parties to refrain from any action that might disrupt this process.  It takes note, in this regard, of the recommendation contained in the special report of the Secretary General on elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo dated 26 May 2005 (S/2005/320) that all political parties should sign and commit themselves to respect the agreed Code of Conduct for the electoral process.  The Council urges all parties and transitional institutions to make every effort to respect scrupulously the timetable for polls developed by the Independent Electoral Commission, and in particular to begin preparations for the referendum on the draft Constitution as soon as possible.


“The Security Council welcomes progress made so far in the preparation of the elections, in particular the adoption and promulgation of the referendum law, and the start of voter registration in Kinshasa, which marks an historic and important step in the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Council calls on the transitional authorities to accelerate those reforms remaining to be carried out, in particular drafting of the electoral law and integration of the security forces.


“The Security Council underlines the importance of elections as the foundation for the longer-term restoration of peace and stability, national reconciliation, and establishment of the rule of law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It calls upon the Congolese authorities to exercise efficient, transparent and comprehensive control over State finances, ensuring that there is no impunity for those responsible for acts of embezzlement or corruption.  In this regard, the Council encourages the Congolese authorities to continue consultations with their international partners, in full respect for the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to put in place credible arrangements to strengthen support for good governance and transparent economic management.”


Background


When the Security Council met this afternoon, it had before it a special report of the Secretary-General on elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document S/2005/320), based on the findings of a United Nations mission to assess electoral preparations, which had visited the country in April, and presenting the plans of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) for assisting the Congolese people to achieve a viable and open electoral process. 


According to the report, the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement on the Transition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, signed by the parties on 17 December 2002, outlined a transitional process culminating in national elections to be held two years after the June 2003 inauguration of the Transitional Government, with the stipulation that the transition could be extended for two six-months periods if technical preparations for elections were delayed.  It will be essential that the elections are sufficiently credible in the eyes of the Congolese electorate. 


The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), established in June 2004, has put technical preparations for elections in place, but has formally requested the national Assembly, on 28 April, to extend the transition, the report notes.  It is expected that voter registration of some 28 million voters will begin in June.  In June 2004, donors approved an estimated budget of some $284 million, of which $181 million has been pledged, but only $88 million made available.  While the electoral budget covers the cost of transportation of material to the country and of further surface transportation from the 145 territoires and 21 cities to the registration and polling stations, it does not include transportation of electoral material from Kinshasa to the territoires and major cities.  The IEC has, therefore, asked MONUC to take on that responsibility.


The report notes a number of potential threats to the security of the electoral process with the continued existence, in a climate of general insecurity and lawlessness, of armed groups, particularly in Ituri, North and South Kivu, central and northern Katanga and Maniema.  In combination with national integrated military units, MONUC military in Ituri and the Kivus will assist in maintaining a security presence throughout the electoral process.  However, in northern and central Katanga, the national armed forces have yet to show the capacity to address security issues related to the presence of Mayi-Mayi groups.  Another security threat relates to tensions between political parties in large population centres.  A related issue of concern is how prevailing tensions between ethnic groups could affect the dynamics of local politics in some areas.  The expected return of some 48,000 Banyamulenge refugees from Rwanda and Burundi could pose considerable security risks during the registration and polling.


Noting that it is primarily the responsibility of the Transitional Government to create the conditions necessary of the success of the electoral process, the Secretary-General urges the transitional leaders “to think not of what the electoral process can bring to them personally and to their immediate supporters, but of what it can mean for the Congolese people and for the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a nation”.  The Secretary-General’s recommendations, through which the international community can assist the Government, include the signing of a Code of Conduct and the establishment of a Group of Friends on Good governance.  The Secretary-General strongly urges the members of the Transitional Government to enter into those commitments.


The Secretary-General further recommends that the military strength of MONUC be increased by 2,590 all ranks to a total strength of 19,290.  The additional personnel would only be deployed temporarily for the period of the elections and their immediate aftermath to ensure stability in highly volatile areas.  He also recommends strengthening the civilian police component by an additional 261 civilian police and five formed police units to undertake training and institutions-building activities at the central and ground levels.


As for the logistical support requested of MONUC by IEC for the transport of electoral material from Kinshasa to the 145 territoires and 21 cities, the Secretary-General recommends giving MONUC a mandate to do so, for which increased air mobility assets will be required, including 3 IL-76 aircraft, 6 C-130 aircraft, 11 medium-utility helicopters and 2 MI-26 helicopters.  The additional aircraft would also serve to supplement the support required for the deployment of the Katanga brigade.  As most of the sites are in areas without a current permanent MONUC presence, additional logistic infrastructure and ground transportation resources will be required. 


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*     The 5217th Meeting was closed.