TROOPS WITHDRAWALS AND IMPENDING DIALOGUE MEAN IMPROVEMENTS IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
TROOPS WITHDRAWALS AND IMPENDING DIALOGUE MEAN IMPROVEMENTS IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
4361st Meeting (AM)
TROOPS WITHDRAWALS AND IMPENDING DIALOGUE MEAN IMPROVEMENTS
IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
But Concerns Remain over Fighting in East and Human Rights Violations
The situation in the Democratic Republic was favourable in many respects, though there were still areas that caused concern, Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council today as he briefed the Council on the situation in that country.
The ceasefire had been holding for the most part since January; Namibia had been withdrawing its troops according to schedule and Rwanda had withdrawn a significant number of forces, Mr. Annabi explained. The preparatory meeting for the inter-Congolese dialogue had been successful, and the dialogue itself would commence on 15 October.
Of concern, however, was the continuing conflict in the east of the country, he added. Human rights violations continued and humanitarian conditions for inhabitants remained poor. The military court continued to try civilian cases, despite the Government’s denial. And humanitarian agencies continued to face deteriorating conditions since the killing of International Committee of the Red Cross workers in April.
He explained that since the last briefing on this country, the Secretary-General had appointed Amos Namanga Ngongi as the Special Representative to that country who was in fact arriving there today. The Secretary-General himself would visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda on 1 September.
The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the preparatory meeting for the inter-Congolese dialogue had demonstrated his people's eagerness to reconstruct their nation and the government’s desire for peace. Rwandan, Ugandan and other foreign forces must be removed so that his country could “wash its laundry in private”.
He gave a summary of atrocities committed by members of foreign armies against Congolese. As he detailed the humanitarian disaster in his country he asked the Council to step up pressure on those who continued to impede the work of humanitarian aid workers. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had always wanted to open humanitarian corridors, he underscored.
Council Members expressed widespread support for the successful outcome of the preparatory meeting and the upcoming inter-Congolese dialogue, which many
stressed was one the few paths forward for peace in both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes Region. There were repeated calls for the immediate appointment of a humanitarian coordinator for that country, as well as numerous strong condemnations for the human rights abuses that were still being inflicted on women and children. The need to demilitarize Kisangani was stressed as was the need to implement phase three of the deployment of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).
President of the Council, Alfonso Valdivieso (Colombia), speaking in his national capacity, welcomed the impending Council meeting with the Facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue Sir Ketumile Masire, former President of Botswana. The agreement to hold that meeting and allow all to participate, including the signatories to the Lusaka Agreement and all combatants, was a positive development.
The representatives of France, Norway, Mali, Mauritius, Jamaica, Russian Federation, Ireland, China, Bangladesh, Singapore, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Ukraine, United States, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Namibia and Rwanda also made statements in today's meeting.
The meeting, which began at 10:35 a.m., was adjourned at 1:25 a.m.
In its second meeting today, the Security Council will hear a briefing from Assistant Secretary-General Hedi Annabi on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Following the 1994 massacres in Rwanda and the establishment of a new Government there, some 1.2 million Rwandese Hutus -- including some who had taken part in the genocide -- fled to Kivu province in eastern Zaire, an area partly inhabited by ethnic Tutsis. There, a rebellion started in 1996, pitting Zairean Tutsis, led by Laurent Désiré Kabila, against the pro-Hutu army of President Mobutu Sese Seko. Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Zaire/Congo (ADFL), aided by Rwanda and Uganda, took Kinshasa, the capital, in 1997, and established the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The civil war resulted in more than 450,000 refugees and internally displaced people.
In 1998, a rebellion against the Kabila Government started in Kivu, and within weeks the rebels had seized large areas of the country. Angola, Chad, Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe promised and provided President Kabila with military support. Despite the recapture of several towns and halting of a rebel advance on Kinshasa, the rebels maintained their grip on the eastern regions. The rebel movement, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), was supported by Rwanda and Uganda. The Security Council called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of foreign forces, and urged States not to interfere in the country's internal affairs. Uganda signed a peace agreement with the Kabila Government in April 1999. In May, the RCD split into two factions.
Efforts by the Secretary-General, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) led in July 1999 to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. Signed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, along with Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, it provided for an end of hostilities and for the holding of an inter-Congolese dialogue. The "Lusaka Agreement" included provisions for the normalization of the situation along the border; the control of illicit arms trafficking and infiltration of armed groups; the holding of a national dialogue; and the establishment of a mechanism for disarming militias and armed groups. It also provided for a Joint Military Commission (JMC) composed of two representatives from each party under a neutral Chairman appointed by the OAU. The two rebel factions signed the agreement in August. To help implement the agreement, the Council authorized the deployment of 90 United Nations military liaison officers to strategic areas in the country and to the capitals of the signatory States.
To maintain liaison with the parties, assist in implementing the agreement and monitor security conditions, the Security Council in November established the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), incorporating the personnel it had authorized earlier on. In February 2000, the Council expanded the size and mandate of the mission, which was to monitor implementation of the ceasefire, support disarmament and demobilization, and provide support to the facilitator of the National Dialogue. The Council authorized the use of force by MONUC to protect United Nations personnel and civilians under imminent threat of violence, and made the deployment of the Mission to its authorized strength of 5,500 contingent on adequate access, security and cooperation. Continued fighting prevented full deployment.
In January 2001, President Laurent Kabila was killed. The Security Council met formally four times in February to discuss the changing situation in the country. Laurent Kabila’s son, Joseph, assumed the Presidency and in February, at separate meetings, both he and Rwandan President Paul Kagame addressed the Council. It seemed the impasse might be broken. The Secretary-General proposed an updated concept of MONUC operations to monitor and verify ceasefire and disengagement plans, and, on 22 February, the Council adopted a resolution endorsing this new concept and calling for rapid implementation of disengagement plans. Reports in late February and early March were received of withdrawals of Ugandan and Rwandan troops from the territory of the Democratic Republic.
In June this year, the Council extended the mandate of MONUC until 15 June
2002, by adopting resolution 1355. That extension was, however, subject to a review of progress every four months. By that resolution, the Council also approved an updated concept of operations put forward by the Secretary-General in his eighth report on the Mission, which included the creation of a civilian police component and an integrated civilian/military planning section to coordinate disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration (DDRR) operations. It also includes a strengthening of MONUC's presence in Kisangani, and a strengthening of the Mission's logistic support capability to facilitate current and foreseen future deployment.
The Council also authorized MONUC to deploy military observers in locations where early withdrawal was implemented, to monitor the process and to expand the civilian component of MONUC in accordance with the recommendations in his report, in order to establish a human rights monitoring capacity, as well as civilian political affairs and humanitarian affairs offices within the Mission.
Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council demanded that Ugandan and Rwandan forces and all other foreign forces withdraw from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in compliance with the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. It demanded that the Front de Liberation du Congo (FLC) disengage and withdraw its forces, in accordance with the commitment it made to the Council mission in their meeting of 25 May 2001, and expressed its intention to monitor that process. It also demanded that RCD demilitarize Kisangani.
On 6 July 2001, in a Presidential statement, the Security Council expressed its concern about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The statement noted that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo still maintained positions beyond the disengagement line, the FLC had not fulfilled its commitment to withdraw its forces to agreed-on positions by 1 June 2001, and that the Ralliement pour la Démocratie au Congo-Goma (RDC-Goma) had failed to disengage Kisangani and has obstructed MONUC operations. Council members called on all forces to withdraw to the agreed-upon positions as a matter of urgency.
Council members also expressed concern about the impact on the peace process by the activities of groups such as the ex-FAR/Interahamwe, the Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (FDD) and the Force Nationale de Libération (FNL), and reminded all parties, including the Government that -- under Security Council resolution 1355 and other resolutions -- they should cease immediately all support to such groups.
HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on the situation in the Democratic Republic. He said that among developments since the Special Representative had briefed the Council on
24 July, the Secretary-General had appointed Amos Namanga Ngongi as the Special Representative to the Democratic Republic. The Secretary-General himself would visit Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda on 1 September. He would be accompanied by the new Special Representative and other senior Secretariat officials.
He said the situation in the Democratic Republic was favourable in many respects. The ceasefire had been holding for the most part since January. Namibia had been withdrawing its troops according to schedule and Rwanda had withdrawn a significant number of troops. The aims of the inter-Congolese dialogue had been going along fairly well on schedule.
Still, he continued, there were areas of concern, especially over the continuing conflict in the east. Human rights violations continued and humanitarian conditions for inhabitants of the Democratic Republic remained poor.
On the political side, he said, the preparatory meeting for the next round of the inter-Congolese dialogue had been held at Gaborone on the 24 August and had been successful. The dialogue itself would take place on 15 October in Addis Ababa. It was expected to last 45 days. Representatives from all parts of the Democratic Republic had taken place in the preparatory meeting. Key issues had been agreed upon, including those concerned with liberalizing political life, freedom of movement, reestablishment of communications, protection of persons and natural resources, and withdrawal of foreign troops in line with the Lusaka agreement.
He said that relations between MONUC and Congolese parties continued to be satisfactory, although MONUC has been harassed in the east. That issue had been taken up with Government officials. He detailed the military situation in the various sectors and highlighted the particularly disturbing incident where a MONUC helicopter had been shot at. MONUC observers continued to supervise the withdrawal of foreign forces. MONUC had also contributed to restoring electricity, to water purification and to the rehabilitation of schools. The Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Carol Bellamy, had visited and UNICEF had begun a polio vaccination campaign that would be carried out in neighboring countries as well. She had met with leaders and had secured their agreement to stop using child soldiers.
Still, he said, serious violations of human rights continued. The military court continued to try civilian cases, despite the Government’s denial. In the east, security had worsened, while in the north-west the human rights situation had deteriorated. Humanitarian agencies continued to face deteriorating conditions since the killing of International Committee of the Red Cross workers in April.
Overall, he said, the tasks remaining before MONUC were difficult. The Secretary-General had outlined those tasks in his 8 June report and parties in the Democratic Republic had gone a long way in helping to implement agreed-upon tasks. They had agreed to demobilize, for example. However, they had not yet provided all the information that was required and demobilization could not be undertaken. He would welcome proposals on how MONUC’s work could be supported. Of key concern was that parties come up with a practicable framework during the Secretary-General’s upcoming visit. It was obvious there could be no military solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said the inter-Congolese dialogue was important for the restoration of democracy. The international community should encourage that process and act upon the important consequences that would come out of it. The international community should also assist the Congolese in their socio-economic recovery. Noting that the peace process had moved forward, he said now was the time for foreign forces to withdraw from the Democratic Republic of the Congo –- a point that had been stressed overwhelmingly by most participants at the Gaborone meeting. There was also a need to move forward with disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of all armed groups. A plan had been drafted but it now required a political framework and agreement. Such agreement would only be possible if confidence was established among the country parties. The various leaders needed to agree on modalities and a framework, with the international community providing the support that would assist the DDR programme and the third phase of MONUC’s deployment.
He said Kisangani, which was symbolic to the peace process, still had to be demilitarized. The RCD still had troops there. Cooperation by the parties with MONUC was another very important point, and the Council should not accept United Nations staff being subjected to pressure or threats. Turning to the outlook for phase three, he called for future deployment of the Mission, particularly in the east of the country. The reopening of the Congo River to traffic would provide a breath of fresh air and give the United Nations greater access to Congolese cities. He stressed that the river network should be kept open. Also, all parties must strictly respect human rights in the areas under their control. There could be no settlement or reconciliation if the violators of those rights were not punished. He added that the Council must implement measures to halt the continued looting of the country’s resources.
WEGGER STROMMEN (Norway) said progress in deployment of MONUC in phase two had been mixed. Foreign troops were leaving but the humanitarian and human rights situations were deteriorating. There were two priorities in the Democratic Republic. The first was to stop the negative forces still causing the clashes in the east, and the second was to proceed with the inter-Congolese dialogue. The absence of dialogue between heads of State when it came to withdrawing foreign troops was troubling. It was little use to talk about disarmament without a political solution. Norway was prepared to make a contribution towards that effort.
It was a positive step that the preparatory meeting had taken place, he said. Hopefully, the Addis Ababa meeting would signal the start of substantive steps. However, the troubling humanitarian situation needed to be addressed. Violent actions, such as the firing on the MONUC helicopter, should not be tolerated.
SEKOU KASSÉ (Mali) said the restoration of peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would depend on the success of the inter-Congolese dialogue. He thus welcomed the results of the Gaborone meeting, which had breathed new life into the Lusaka Agreement and made it possible to take important decisions on other problems that were impeding the resolution of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said that the success of the Gaborone meeting should not let anyone forget that the peace process had a long way to go and that the positive developments were reversible. In addressing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the staunch resolve of the Council would be crucial. Today it was imperative for this body to demonstrate credibility and commitment and for the parties to the conflict to comply with its recommendations.
He appealed to all parties to demonstrate restraint and compromise so that the 15 October meeting in Addis Ababa on the inter-Congolese dialogue would be a real success story and enhance the aims and goals of the Lusaka agreement.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said that as preparations for the inter-Congolese dialogue were in progress, sight should not be lost of other important aspects of the peace process. First, the parties to the Lusaka Agreement should now be urged to finalize their comprehensive plans for the withdrawal of foreign forces and for the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement (DDRRR) of armed groups. The DDRRR process should proceed without any further delay.
The Council must also start giving due consideration to the issue of economic recovery of the country to accompany the DDRRR process, he continued. While the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund had been sensitized to play an important role in the country’s economic recovery, it would be a positive step forward if a pledging conference of bilateral and multilateral donors was to be held in the near future.
Further, he said, MONUC would require additional manpower in the important task it would be called on to undertake during the third phase. The next phase should be addressed with all the seriousness it deserved, particularly the issue of MONUC’s strength, which he emphasized should be compatible with the task it faced. In addition, the complete cessation of the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the country was an objective which the Council should pursue vigorously.
CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said he welcomed the next round in the inter-Congolese dialogue and encouraged all parties to cooperate with the Facilitator. All parties should participate in the upcoming meeting in a spirit of compromise and unity since the national reconciliation dialogue must begin before disarmament could continue. Civil society must also have a key role in the dialogue. He asked Mr. Annabi to report on any positive outcome to the call for women’s participation in the preparatory meeting.
He called on all parties to cooperate with MONUC in regard to implementing the demobilization programme. He congratulated Namibia for withdrawing by the end of August, as well as Rwanda for withdrawing as it had committed to do. The use of child soldiers and the conflict in the east remained major concerns, as did the overall humanitarian situation. He called on all armed groups to cooperate with humanitarian agencies and to provide access in territories under their control. He also called for an improvement in the intolerable human rights situation in areas under the government’s control, saying there could be no peace without justice.
There was a long way to go, he said. The demilitarization of Kisangani was vital and the shooting of the MONUC helicopter must be investigated. However, the situation in the Democratic Republic could not be resolved out of context. A conference on the Great Lakes region must be convened, and carried out in the spirit of the inter-Congolese dialogue, to bring peace and prosperity to the region.
ANDREY E. GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said his delegation was pleased with progress in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, however shaky. The current situation was a striking change compared to what it was a few months ago. The recent meeting in Gaborone on the inter-Congolese dialogue was a momentous event. He commended the efforts of all the parties involved in preparing for the meeting. He also welcomed the start of direct negotiations between the FLC, RCD and the leaders of the DRC, and particularly the statements of the former two on their intentions to abandon violence and embark on the path of dialogue. That was the kind of concrete action that would advance the peace process. His country would do everything to ensure that all Congolese efforts were supported by the international community.
He said one key aspect in the Democratic Republic of the Congo scenario was compliance by the RCD in demilitarizing Kisangani. He also hoped that the leadership of the RCD would radically improve the nature of their interaction with MONUC. A priority task was the DDRRR of former combatants. That process must be voluntary and be supported by all parties to the conflict. Establishing confidence-building measures in the eastern provinces was also essential, especially in the areas where there was increased activity by armed groups.
He said that in the long term, prospects for settlement in the DRC were intrinsically linked to the democratization of political life in all parts of the Great Lakes region. The humanitarian and human rights situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were also depressing. He called on all parties to take steps to redress such negatives and to allow humanitarian access and the provision of humanitarian aid.
GERARD CORR (Ireland) said there was a sense of frustration at the slow pace of progress in the Democratic Republic but this morning’s report indicated progress was being made. That progress should be built upon quickly, particularly with regard to establishing a political framework, since demobilization efforts could not be implemented without that. Kinshasa and Kigali should work together. MONUC should be given access to all areas as soon as possible and all foreign forces should be withdrawn. Finally, the shocking misery of the people must end by all parties respecting international humanitarian principles.
He said the success of the preparatory meeting for the next round of talks was a very positive step. It was a good basis for the substantive session starting on 15 October.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the Addis Ababa meeting in October would lay the foundation for the peace process. The success of the lead-up to the inter-Congolese dialogue was due to the common efforts of all the parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He commended them for considering the interests of the people, putting aside their differences and looking for common ground. The process, however, was still a challenge for the countries of the Great Lakes Region and the international community. There must be a continuous effort to seek out a path towards national reconciliation that would be in the interests of the Congolese people.
He said the RCD must comply with all resolutions of the Council and speed up the demilitarizing of Kisangani. Also, all foreign forces must withdraw from the Democratic Republic of the Congo quickly and unconditionally. The illegal exploitation of that country’s natural resources must be stopped, so that peace and development in the Great Lakes region could go ahead. He hoped the international community would provide the assistance that the Democratic Republic of the Congo so urgently needed.
He said the timely and smooth deployment of MONUC was the key guarantee for continued progress in the peace process. He demanded that all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo cooperate completely and fully with the Mission in the execution of its mandate. There was also a need to move on to the third stage of MONUC’s deployment as soon as possible. The Council must begin to consider that now.
RUHUL AMIN (Bangladesh) said the spirit of optimism over the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be made a reality. Note had been taken of the demands of the rebel movements with regard to disarming of the so-called negative forces. It was also a demand of the Council, as it was an important provision in the Lusaka Agreement. That requirement should be fulfilled without delay. He also reiterated the demands made by his country at the last meeting of the Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo when the RCD had been reminded of its obligations to withdraw from Kisangani. Similar cooperation had also been called for by the FLC/MLC.
He said he was pleased to note that the Preparatory Conference agreed to start the inter-Congolese dialogue from 15 October in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was essential that the momentum created in Gaborone was carried forward for the meeting in that city. The intervening period prior to the October date should be used fully by the Congolese parties. It was also the collective responsibility of the international community to extend all possible assistance and support to the dialogue. Bangladesh once again underlined the need to allow the full participation of Congolese civil society in the process. It urged the Government and other Congolese parties to give specific attention to that issue as they prepared for the dialogue.
He said the present size of MONUC did not correspond to the demands of the situation. Expansion of the Mission would have to be considered. There was a practical need for the Council to demonstrate a credible presence, determination and commitment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said all parties must participate in an open, inclusive dialogue. Mr. Annabi’s report made a number of issues clear.
First, she said, the military situation indicated that it was up to the parties involved in a conflict to ensure the human rights and humanitarian situation in territories under their control. Those parties must guarantee access to humanitarian agencies in the territories under their control. Further, since the situation of civilian victims was of the highest concern, aid agencies should intensify efforts to aid people and to gain the cooperation of parties in allowing access to humanitarian workers.
RHADIA ACHOURI (Tunisia) said the agreement emerging from the October meeting would be a decisive turning point for the Democratic Republic. All support should therefore be extended to the parties wanting to achieve reconciliation. The Council must support the dialogue and must follow the situation closely. Upcoming initiatives during the French and Irish Council presidencies were commendable actions.
Even so, she said, restoring the peace depended on more than the dialogue. The parties must respect their agreements. Kisangani and Goma must both implement the Council’s DDRRR programme, which remained the core issue and determined the reality in all other respects. It was disappointing that so little had been done in that area to date. The Secretary-General’s visit could bring about the political framework that was essential for implementing DDRRR demobilization process.
The challenges in the Democratic Republic were daunting, she said. They needed to be met by all parties and by all in the United Nations system, including the new Special Representative, the Secretariat and the Council as it moved MONUC towards phase 3 deployment. MONUC would need all possible resources to do its work during that critical phase. Tunisia would support any initiatives. In the country itself, the speedy withdrawal of foreign forces was a first priority. Another was for the Congolese parties to approach the dialogue with the committed intention of re-establishing the integrity of their country.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said there were both guarded optimism and remaining problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Gaborone meeting had been a considerable success and was of great significance. The agreement that had been reached on the issue of political prisoners was a very good sign and he urged all sides to move forward on that issue.
He said that the meeting in Gaborone had involved considerable organizational complexity. Setting up Addis Ababa would also require considerable administrative efforts. It would be good to keep a close watch on that aspect. He hoped this appeal for additional help for that meeting would not be lost on the Secretariat. He also expressed concern about Kisangani, stressing the need for prompt progress and early action towards that city’s demilitarization. On the issue of demobilization and disarmament, he stressed that it was important for related programmes to move forward as fast as possible and without waiting for phase three of MONUC to begin. While there was need for a political framework, as had been stressed earlier, he reminded the international community to be sensitive to the fact that the parties could not do everything by themselves.
He hoped that the Secretariat and MONUC would make use of the opportunities to assist the demobilization process. He also wanted to know about planning for that process by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Without adequate provisions the peace process could collapse. He said that the pending issue of the humanitarian coordinator had to be discussed. That position had to be filled as soon possible if the United Nations was to provide adequate assistance. His delegation also strongly shared the concerns raised this morning by Norway on the treatment of children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All rights and norms must be respected with regard to them.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said that the prospects for peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had never been more promising. Nevertheless, the peace process had not yet become irreversible. The recalcitrance of certain parties and their attempts to preserve the status quo were obvious indications of the existing difficulties threatening peace. Many political, military and social problems still existed, and their solution depended on the willingness of the parties to implement the Lusaka Peace Agreement.
He said he welcomed the outcome of the long-awaited preparatory meeting on the inter-Congolese dialogue. Also promising was the fact that different Congolese representatives had agreed to meet in October to discuss outstanding issues. Such progress should be accompanied by progress in implementing other aspects of the Lusaka Accord, namely the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the territory and the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation or resettlement of armed groups –- all fundamental criteria for a lasting peace in the country and the region.
With respect to armed groups whose violent acts had threatened the peace efforts, there was an urgent need for a visionary strategy aimed at an effective ceasefire, as well as the implementation by all parties of their Lusaka obligations. He remained deeply concerned over the delay in the demilitarization of Kisangani, which was a major obstacle to peace. Following Rwanda and Uganda, the RCD-Goma must now abide by that commitment without further delay. The Council should make a clear commitment, in line with its policy to consider expanding the size of the Mission, and it should demonstrate a credible presence, determination and commitment in that country.
CAMERON R.HUME (United States) said the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement had been a roller coaster. While the ceasefire was holding, for example, the forces of principal belligerents still remained in place. The humanitarian and human rights situations had also not improved and that was an area of great concern. Negative forces continued to receive arms and there was still a propensity to violence in some areas. Some forces also seemed to be receiving support from elements in the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while Kisangani had yet to de demilitarized. In addition, a relevant and credible political plan for the disengagement of forces was yet to be presented. He hoped the Secretary-General would raise the critical question of transition to phase three of the Mission during his visit to the Great Lakes Region.
He said the withdrawal of foreign forces and the demobilization of negative forces were clearly related concerns that would test the political will of the parties. He hoped United Nations planning would go hand-in-hand with the plans of the Joint Military Commission and the governments of the region. He said the long-term interests of all the parties would be best addressed by cooperation. The pursuit of long-term security interests was also critical to the path laid out by the Lusaka Agreement.
On the Secretary-General's visit to the Great Lakes Region, he said, he hoped Mr. Annan would also raise the issue of the demilitarization of Kisangani, when he was in that city, as well as when he visited Kinshasa and Kigali. He also hoped the Secretary-General would be able to work with Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to name and dispatch a humanitarian coordinator to that country. There had really been no progress in taking people away from the risks they had experienced for some time now. Humanitarian leadership was needed, and the negative situation had to be addressed as soon as possible.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO, the Council president, speaking in his capacity as the Permanent Representative of Colombia, recalled the meeting the Council would have on 5 September with the Facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue. Reaching agreement to hold that meeting so that all participated, including the signatories to the Lusaka Agreement and all combatants, was a positive development. However, there were problems still to be addressed, such as fighting in the east, the situation of human rights and the humanitarian situation.
Noting that UNICEF head Carol Bellamy’s visit had been of particular significance with regard to improving conditions in the Democratic Republic, he said the Secretary-General’s visit would be a good opportunity for making political progress. Hopefully, he added, the war in the Congo was really over, as the Foreign Minister of that country had said last week.
ZENON MUKONGO NGAY (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said a window of opportunity had been opened in his country. Much of the credit belonged to the Secretary-General and to the former Special Representative, whose leadership had been successful despite difficult challenges. Now, the recommendations of the Council must be scrupulously implemented, even as the Council admitted it could have done better, no matter how much it had done to help.
He said the Council must use all tools at its disposal to safeguard persons and protect the integrity of the country. Kisangani must be demilitarized and the Council must hold Goma to its responsibility in accomplishing that. Furthermore, phase three of MONUC’s deployment must be undertaken quickly and all parties must meet their obligations so as to avoid a situation such as that which had impaired MONUC’s phase two deployment.
The preparatory meeting for the dialogue had demonstrated the eagerness of his people to reconstruct their country, his said. The Government’s participation showed its desire to return to peace. The rules for the national dialogue had been established, but Rwandan, Ugandan and other foreign forces must be removed so that his country could “wash its laundry in private”. That was all his country wanted. It held no hidden agenda against any of the countries that had attacked it. In a few days, his country would invite the United Nations and other countries to approve a cantonment plan.
He then gave a summary of atrocities committed by members of foreign armies against Congolese. He said the humanitarian situation in his country had been labelled disastrous but his country had always favored the opening of humanitarian corridors. The Council should step up pressure on those who continued to impede the work of humanitarian aid workers.
Finally, he emphasized that the phase three deployment of MONUC should not be delayed. He said his country was committed to abiding by the Lusaka Agreement, but the foreign forces had to leave so that the Democratic Republic could begin rebuilding.
JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU), Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta, said that although the ceasefire had held for several months, developments on the ground had been disappointing since the Council’s debate in July. However, a glimmer of hope could be seen in the success of the preparatory meeting on the inter-Congolese dialogue held in Gaborone. Admittedly, Gaborone was only a first step. It was important that it now be followed up and that the dialogue proper, which would start on 15 October in Addis Ababa, stimulated other aspects of the Lusaka Agreement.
There was no similar progress to welcome with regard to demobilization, he said. While the exercise was indeed complex, it remained one of the cornerstones for resolving the conflict. The Union was convinced that a solution to that delicate problem would be within reach if a sincere dialogue between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda was built up. In the meantime, it was crucial that negative forces should not receive any material or logistical support. While MONUC was already authorized to assist with the demobilization programme within the limits of its resources, as the situation developed the mission’s mandate, configuration and strength would have to be adjusted in order for it to provide crucial support in the implementation of a precise, detailed plan.
He repeated once again that only a political solution could bring peace to the country and lay the foundations for the reconstruction and economic recovery of the region. The Union declared itself ready to draw on sizeable resources. Such assistance, which could amount to as much as 120 million euros, would be made available when there was tangible progress in the peace process and in the inter-Congolese dialogue.
He added that the international community, particularly the Council, must continue to keep a close watch on developments on the ground, seize any openings as they arose and step in when the situation threatened to get out of hand.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said he was particularly concerned at the suffering of innocent women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He welcomed the pledges and aid from the international community to help in the economic recovery of that nation and commended the important work being done by UNICEF. He called on the international community to consider expanding its assistance to the war-affected State in light of the large-scale destruction that had been unleashed on it.
He said the continued occupation of Kisangani by the RCD-Goma was deplorable. The Council should do everything in its power to bring about demilitarization of that city. He told Council members that the withdrawal of Namibia's troops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was on schedule and was proceeding well. He also welcomed the successful outcome of the Gabarone meeting and said that he trusted that women and other minority groups would actively participate in the forthcoming meeting of the inter-Congolese dialogue in Addis Ababa. He also hoped the Council would soon approve the phase three deployment of MONUC. When it was considering the mandate it should be cognizant of enormity of the conflict and vastness of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
ANASTASE GASANA (Rwanda) said he was pleased with the success of the meeting on the inter-Congolese dialogue in Gaborone, Botswana. The efforts involved in bringing it about had been tireless, but in the end, wisdom had prevailed. The success that was being recognized today was the fruit of that wisdom. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, with its approximately 50 million people, had considerable potential and talent, which had unfortunately been silenced after years of dictatorship. Now the Congolese people were working hand-in-hand to set the country on the right course.
He said Rwanda had also had its inter-Rwandese dialogue, which had lasted two years in Arusha, the United Republic of Tanzania. That process had led to an outstanding document that Rwanda sorely needed. But right after the document had been signed, a Rwandese political leader, and a signatory, called it a mere piece of paper stating that that he and his followers, the Ex-FAR and Interahamwe, would come down like lightening and strike anything in their path. That had destroyed the document. He hoped that what had befallen Rwanda would never happen to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that the dialogue there would work for the good of the Congolese people.
In closing remarks, Mr. Annabi said the participation of women in the preparatory meeting for the October meeting had not been good. It was an important issue for President Masire and efforts were being made to improve women’s representation in Addis. Overall, MONUC and the Council were supporting the forthcoming meeting within the constraints of regulations and budget, especially in the form of logistics such as transportation.
Explaining the so-called DDRRR programme in the Democratic Republic, he said it was basically moving back to the traditional disarming, demobilization and demining concept. The two-pronged strategy included a capacity-building component to improve MONUC’s capability for responding to early disarmament opportunities, such as in addressing camp situations. The second part of the strategy looked at the longer term and focused on implementing confidence-building measures prior to initiating a 3D programme.
In the final analysis, however, he said an important element in a disarmament programme was the ability to inform armed groups about the opportunities and alternatives available to them. That was the reason why a basic political framework, agreed to by all the leaders, was essential for the programme to go forward.
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