8 April 2008 The redeployment of United Nations peacekeepers to the far east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where critical steps are being taken to resolve long-standing conflict and instability, risks creating security vacuums and increased tensions in other parts of the country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says.
In his latest report to the Security Council, Ban Ki-moon warns that the resources of the UN’s mission to the DRC, which is known as MONUC, are “stretched to the limit, creating risks in areas of potential and rising tension, including in Bas-Congo and elsewhere.”
“The Mission’s current force levels… do not reflect the critical role MONUC is expected to play under the Goma and Nairobi processes,” Mr. Ban says, referring to the recent agreements reached between the Governments of DRC and Rwanda and the armed groups operating in the volatile far east, especially North Kivu and South Kivu provinces.
“I intend to keep the situation under close review and may revert to the Council with recommendations to ensure that the Mission’s military and civilian deployments correspond to its mandated tasks.”
The Kivus have long been a source of instability in the DRC, even after the official end of the civil war in 2003, and Mr. Ban reiterates that the region still has the potential to undermine the stability of the rest of the country.
“Long-term stability in the Kivus will depend on many interlinked factors,” he writes, citing the need for State authority to be fully extended across the two provinces and for a “substantially strengthened” national army, known as FARDC, which is also professional, well-structured and respectful of international humanitarian and human rights law.
But the Secretary-General stresses that improvements in the far east cannot be at the expense of other regions, such as Bas-Congo in the far west, where the Congolese national police have been involved in violent and sometimes deadly clashes with the Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK) politico-religious movement since January.
He strongly urges Congolese authorities to “refrain from the disproportionate use of force,” although he adds that he is “very concerned by the provocations of BDK, which led to the escalating tensions.”
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