TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT, REBEL DISARMAMENT, FOREIGN TROOP WITHDRAWAL NEXT STEPS TO ADVANCE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO PEACE PROCESS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

14 May 2002
SC/7396

TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT, REBEL DISARMAMENT, FOREIGN TROOP WITHDRAWAL NEXT STEPS TO ADVANCE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO PEACE PROCESS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

14/05/2002
Press Release
SC/7396


Security Council

4532nd Meeting (AM)


TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT, REBEL DISARMAMENT, FOREIGN TROOP WITHDRAWAL NEXT STEPS

TO ADVANCE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO PEACE PROCESS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD


Jean-David Levitte (France) Briefs Council on Great Lakes Region Mission


The establishment of a transitional government in Kinshasa, the disarming of rebel groups, and the withdrawal of foreign troops constituted the basis of what must be done to advance the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council was told this morning, as it met to discuss its recent mission to the Great Lakes region.


Presenting the report of the Council’s third mission to the region, Jean-David Levitte (France) stated that the establishment of a transitional government of national unity in Kinshasa would not only help Rwanda deal with its security issues, but also enable the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) to better discharge its functions.  The inter-Congolese dialogue had made remarkable progress in its recent meeting in Sun City, South Africa, including the adoption of texts constituting a basis for a transition period and leading to democratic elections.


Among the mission’s recommendations was the absolute need to respect the ceasefire and the need for an inclusive agreement that left no one out.  The relaunching of negotiations between the three parties of the Lusaka Agreement must be followed by further meetings, held in a spirit of openness without any preconditions.  What remained to be discussed amounted to very little.


In order to take into account the security concerns of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s three neighbours, the Council had put forward the idea of a “curtain” of troops, which had been well received by those concerned.  It would involve, within the framework of the Lusaka Agreement, the presence for a limited time and over a limited space, of troops from the neighbouring countries on Congolese soil, for example, Rwandan troops on the Democratic Republic’s border with Rwanda.


As for Burundi, he said while considerable progress had been made, the peace process there remained fragile.  First and foremost, there must be a cessation of hostilities.  Secondly, the implementation of reforms during the transition period was indispensable, with or without a ceasefire.  Thirdly, the assistance of the international community was crucial.  Painstaking and undeniable progress had been made.  The process towards peace was well under way, but had not become irreversible, he cautioned.


The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the lights may have gone out in Sun City, but the conclusion of the dialogue was not an end in itself.  It was necessary now to move forward in ensuring complete success in the remaining steps towards the implementation of the Lusaka Accord.  Among them were:  the establishment of new institutions; the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration process; the orderly withdrawal of all foreign forces; and normalization of the security situation along all the country’s recognized international borders.

He added that the immediate challenges of reunifying the country, consolidating the peace process and organizing free and democratic elections could not be taken up without economic activity, as well as bilateral and multilateral activity.  The international community must attach the same importance to the economic reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that of the Great Lakes region.


Burundi’s representative noted that the achievements of transitional institutions in his country, established six months ago, had been broadly positive, although limited, given the lack of a ceasefire and the lack of international assistance.  The peace process remained fragile, due to the continuation of violence and the wrenching poverty afflicting the population.  Regrettably, the most serious threat to the peace process might be the disastrous economic situation in the country.  While Burundians themselves were primarily responsible for what happened to country, the role of the international community was crucial. 


Rwanda's representative said the full implementation of the Lusaka Accord would reassure Rwanda that the planners and authors of the 1994 genocide, now in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, no longer had any political, military, materiel or financial support.  Further, the inter-Congolese dialogue was a decisive component in the implementation of that Accord.  Rwanda and Uganda had just publicized, through their respective foreign ministers, the common position of the two countries and specific concrete proposals aimed at leading from Sun City to a political agreement and a totally inclusive sharing of power.


The Council also heard statements by the representatives of Spain (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), South Africa and the United Kingdom.


The meeting, which began at 10:46 a.m., adjourned at 12:22 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met this morning to consider the report of the Council’s third mission to the Great Lakes region (document S/2002/537), which took place from 27 April to 7 May and was led by the Permanent Representative of France, Jean-David Levitte.  The members of the mission met with, among others, Sir Ketumile Masire, the facilitator for the inter-Congolese dialogue; the Presidents of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda; Namanga Ngongi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Jean-Pierre Bemba, the leader of the Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC); and Adolphe Onusumba, President of the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie (RCD-Goma).


The Council’s first mission, in May 2000, took place at a time when fighting was continuing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and serious clashes had taken place between Rwandan and Ugandan troops in Kisangani, the report states.  The objective of the mission at that time was to achieve a ceasefire among the parties.  The second mission, in May 2001, coincided with the onset of phase II of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)’s deployment and the disengagement of forces along the confrontation line.  The third mission took place immediately after the inter-Congolese dialogue in Sun City, and as MONUC was preparing itself to enter the next stage of its phase III deployment in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.


The mission makes several recommendations.  Among them, the report states, the Council may wish, following the establishment of a fully inclusive Congolese transitional authority, to consider adding to MONUC’s future mandate elements concerning the organization and conduct of free and fair elections.  Also, the Council should renew its call for the orderly withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in accordance with the Lusaka Agreement and the relevant Council resolutions. 


The mission further recommends that the Secretary-General, if requested by the parties, could instruct MONUC to facilitate the development and implementation of the “curtain” proposal as an interim measure aimed at ensuring border security in the final stages of withdrawal.  [The idea is for the creation of a “curtain” of troops along the eastern borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, subject to the invitation of that Government, involving the Democratic Republic, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi to work out mechanisms for military cooperation along their common borders, so as to have the military presence of the countries concerned in a limited area, for a limited period, to ensure better monitoring of the borders, as a stage in the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement.]


Once the inter-Congolese dialogue develops positively and United Nations forces are deployed in Kindu, the peace process is poised to enter a new and more complex dynamic, states the report.  It would be useful if the regional leaders, in coordination with the United Nations, could ensure the establishment of a follow-up mechanism.  Among the tasks that could be entrusted to it is coordinating the various aspects of the process, and ensuring the coherence of action taken by the international community.


Regarding Burundi, the mission recommends that dialogue with all regional players be intensified, before the next meeting of the regional peace initiative.  The Council may also wish to encourage the States of the region to pursue their efforts to persuade the armed groups to agree to a cessation of hostilities and ceasefire, and to extend full assistance to the facilitation in this regard.


The support of the international community will be critical, stresses the report.  It will be particularly essential for donors to fulfil the commitments they made at the Paris conference of December 2000 and the Geneva conference of December 2001.  The mission will follow up with the international financial institutions on this point.  There is a risk that the peace process, and all the gains made with it so far, might collapse if further assistance, including direct aid, is not forthcoming in the near future. 


Statements


JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), head of the Council mission to the Great Lakes region, introduced the report.  In 10 days, he said, the mission met with eight heads of State, the heads of rebel groups, political leaders and representatives of civil society.  The mission was conducted at the request of the parties, with the objective of peace in the Great Lakes region and the future of the people concerned -- those of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.  He recalled that between 2 and 3 million people in the Democratic Republic itself had fallen victim to the war.  What struck members of the mission was the unanimity of feeling among the people that all foreign troops must withdraw and the plundering of natural resources must stop.


With regard to the Democratic Republic, he said that the ceasefire was holding, even though there was fighting in the eastern part of the country.  The line of disengagement was, on the whole, being respected.  The parties must urgently implement the commitments undertaken.  The withdrawal of armed forces was completed for Namibia and was under way for Angola and Zimbabwe.  The inter-Congolese dialogue had made remarkable progress in Sun City.  Texts had been adopted constituting a basis, over several years, for a transition period, leading to democratic elections.  While undeniable progress had been made, there was still a long way to go.  The objective of the parties therefore, must be to make progress in the main areas of the peace process.


The first recommendation of the mission was the absolute need to respect the ceasefire.  There was nothing today to justify a violation of the ceasefire.  Those who might begin fighting again must know that they would be condemned by the Council. Second, the Council wanted an inclusive agreement that left no one aside. The relaunching of negotiations between the three parties of the Lusaka Agreement must be followed by further meetings held in a spirit of openness, without any preconditions.  Very little remained to be discussed.  A formula must be found to make it possible to guide the Democratic Republic to democratic elections.


The third recommendation concerned the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants, he said, which must take into account the security concerns of Rwanda.  Among other things, President Kabila had expressed his determination to transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda those guilty of genocide who might be residing on Congolese soil.  The MONUC was determined to undertake phase III of its work with a deployment to the eastern part of the country. 


Fourth, he said, the withdrawal of foreign troops on Congolese soil must be completed, as provided for in the Lusaka Agreement.  In order to take into account the security concerns of the Democratic Republic’s three neighbours, the Council had put forward the idea of a “curtain” of troops.  It would involve, within the framework of the Lusaka Agreement, having, for limited time and over a limited space, the presence of troops from the neighbouring country on Congolese soil on its border.  For example, Rwandan troops on the Democratic Republic’s border with Rwanda.  Those troops would work with Congolese troops, with the contribution, if requested, of MONUC observers and African contingents.  That would be the last stage before complete withdrawal.  The proposal had been favourably received by the Democratic Republic, as well as the heads of State of the three neighbours concerned.


The transitional Government in Kinshasa, the disarming of rebel groups and the withdrawal of foreign troops constituted a “triangle” of what needed to be done for further progress in the peace process, he said.  The establishment of a transitional government of national unity in Kinshasa would assist Rwanda in dealing with its security issues.  Also, MONUC would be better able to discharge its duties if there was government in Kinshasa.  There was a clear link between the national Government in Kinshasa, the disarmament of rebel groups and the withdrawal of foreign troops.  Regarding Kisangani, the population informed the mission of the fact that they wanted the withdrawal of all troops present there, complete demilitarization and the reopening of the river to commercial traffic. 


On Burundi, he said the mission had met with all the authorities of the country.  Considerable progress had been made since the Council’s visit last year and the transition was well under way.  Yet, the peace process there remained fragile.  First, there must be a cessation of hostilities.  Nothing today could justify the continuation of fighting.  A regional summit in a few weeks had been envisaged.  The Council must have close dialogue with the countries in the region.  Second, the implementation of reforms during the transition period was indispensable, with or without a ceasefire.  Third, all interlocutors insisted on the need for international assistance.  In that regard, the pledges made in Paris and Geneva must be implemented. 


Lastly, he said that the follow-up Commission had been repatriated to Bujumbura, but there was no representative living there permanently.  He recommended to the Secretary-General that a solution be found.  Painstaking and undeniable progress had been made since the Council committed itself to the Great Lakes region.  The process towards peace was well under way, but had not become irreversible.


INOCENCIO ARIAS (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein, asked all the Congolese parties to act responsibly, show a willingness to compromise and abide by the framework established by the Lusaka Agreements and the relevant Council resolutions.  He called on all countries in the region to exert influence on all the Congolese parties to ensure that they respect and support the desire for peace, democracy and reconciliation expressed in Sun City.


The Union, he said, remained concerned by the continuing clashes in the north and east of the country and by the renewed instability in Kisangani.  He urged all parties to refrain from all military operations and all other acts of provocation that could threaten the political impetus that had emerged from the Sun City meeting.  Regarding the withdrawal of foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo territory, he supported the proposal for the establishment of a “curtain” of troops along the eastern borders of the country as an interim measure aimed at ensuring border security in the final stages of withdrawal.  Also, the establishment of a future follow-up mechanism to the peace process, as suggested by the mission, would be important to help ensure coordination and coherence of the action taken by the international community.


Turning to Burundi, he was extremely concerned by the continuing violence and worsening humanitarian situation, particularly in rural Bujumbura.  He urged all warring factions to respect international humanitarian law and human rights.  Also, he called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and urged all armed factions to continue current talks with the intention of bringing them to a successful conclusion.  At the same time, he called on the Burundian Government to pursue a transparent and coherent policy of reintegrating armed groups into the Burundian army.  He encouraged the efforts to negotiate a definitive and permanent ceasefire.


The Union, he continued, also encouraged the Government and all the transitional institutions to consolidate the reform process, which had already begun, by implementing the transition programme in accordance with the planned time table.  He concurred with the mission about the need to implement the reforms called for in the Arusha Agreement by the transitional Government.

ATOKI ILEKA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the Council mission had coincided with the end of the inter-Congolese dialogue, whose work had been accompanied by the adoption of some 40 resolutions relating to the organization of the transition, as well as by the signing of the Framework Agreement on managing the transition in the country.

Thanking Sir Ketumile Masire for his conduct of the inter-Congolese dialogue and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa for his personal involvement in the search for an acceptable solution to the Congolese conflict, he said the lights may have gone out in Sun City, but the conclusion of the dialogue was not an end in itself.  It was necessary now to move forward in ensuring complete success in the remaining steps towards the implementation of the Lusaka Accord.

He said those steps involved:  the enshrinement of new institutions; the deployment of MONUC phase III; the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration process; the orderly withdrawal of all foreign forces; the extension of State administration throughout the Congolese territory; the disarming of all non-military personnel; and normalization of the security situation along all the country’s recognized international borders.

The Framework Agreement, to which 80 per cent of the participants in the inter-Congolese dialogue had adhered, was open to those parties that had not yet joined it, he said.  The Government would spare no effort in convincing them to join the Agreement.  President Kabila had stressed the Government’s willingness to pursue discussions on issues across the spectrum.

He said the Government had applied the Kampala and Harare agreements to the letter and stationed Rwandan ex-fighters at Kamina.  Some 20 of them had expressed the wish to return home and the Congolese Government was waiting for authorization from Kigali.  The MONUC could verify that the Democratic Republic of the Congo did not support, and would not support, armed groups in destabilizing Rwanda and was firmly determined to consolidate the peace process in the Great Lakes region.  The Congolese Government had invited the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to establish a presence on its territory in order to facilitate its enquiries and to eliminate any pretext for keeping Rwandan troops in the country.


He said, thanks to the Council mission, river traffic had resumed on both banks up to Kisangani, where the mission had welcomed a humanitarian convoy.  Air traffic had also resumed, though more slowly and only in about 70 per cent of the country.  The immediate challenges of reunifying the country, consolidating the peace process and organizing free and democratic elections could not be taken up without economic activity, as well as bilateral and multilateral activity.  The international community must attach the same importance to the economic reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that of the Great Lakes region.


DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) expressed concern that the Council seemed to be contradicting its own resolution 1291 (2002) and was departing from the intent of the Lusaka Agreement, which it had already endorsed.  Paragraph 23 of the mission’s report might be read to mean that the three armed parties in the Congolese dialogue could reach an agreement by themselves and then impose it on the unarmed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  There were five components of the inter-Congolese dialogue –- the Democratic Republic Government, the MLC, the RCD-Goma, the unarmed groups and civil society.  According to the Lusaka Agreement, the five components must be treated equally.


The inter-Congolese dialogue, which his country hosted in Sun City, was a critically important step in a process that would lead to the emergence of legitimate State institutions, born of democratic elections that would be held

at the end of a short transitional period, he said.  When they adjourned after

52 days, they had adopted 40 resolutions that defined the kind of truly independent, united, peaceful, democratic and prosperous Congo they and their people wanted to see. 


The dialogue was left with one outstanding task specified in the 1999 Lusaka Agreement, he said.  That was agreement on the political institutions of the transition to democratic government, the next urgent and decisive task that confronted the Congolese political and social leadership that met at Sun City.  The dialogue had an historic obligation to begin the process leading to the birth of new and stable political institutions that derived their legitimacy from the will of the people.


The Congolese people must, among other things, determine their destiny without foreign interference or patrons; fight for the unity of their country against ethnic and regional divisions; insist on an inclusive process as a necessary condition to unite the country and the people, to destroy mistrust and build mutual confidence; and insist that all agreements were honoured, including the Lusaka Agreement, as a critical first step towards the entrenchment of the rule of law.


ANASTASE GASANA (Rwanda) said his country's concerns for its own security and that of its people had captured the Council’s attention.  On the crucial day that the Government of Rwanda had decided to pursue the former Rwandan Armed Forces (ex-FAR) and the Interahamwe militia into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they had come from Congolese territory and had massacred many innocent people in Rwanda, including a woman who had been the mayor of a district in south-western Cyangugu Province, on the Congolese border.


In addition, he said President Kabila and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe had threatened that they would bomb Rwanda.  The Government of Rwanda had taken those statements very seriously, believing that such threats could only be carried out through certain airports, such as that at Kisangani.


He said full implementation of the Lusaka Accord would reassure Rwanda that the planners and authors of the 1994 genocide, now in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, no longer had any political, military, materiel or financial support.  Further, that they had been disarmed and reintegrated into Rwandan society, as long as they had no case to answer before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda or other tribunals.


The inter-Congolese dialogue was a decisive component in the implementation of the Lusaka Accord, he said.  Rwanda and Uganda had just publicized, through their respective foreign ministers, the common position of the two countries and specific concrete proposals aimed at leading from Sun City to a political agreement and a totally inclusive sharing of power.


He said the agreement between President Kabila and the leader of the MLC, Jean-Pierre Bemba, was nothing but an agreement between two people negotiated in a hotel room away from the rest of the dialogue.  They must rejoin the dialogue, under facilitator Masire, and agree on an inclusive sharing of power that was acceptable to all.  All the Congolese partners must be considered on the same footing, he emphasized.


MARC NTETURUYE (Burundi) said that the mission’s report touched at the heart of the problems of the Great Lakes region and was an honest summary of the talks between the mission and various representatives.  It had been six months since the establishment of transitional institutions in Burundi.  While their achievements had been limited, they had been broadly positive, despite the lack of a ceasefire and the lack of international assistance. The mission understood that the peace process remained fragile, due to the continuation of violence and the wrenching poverty afflicting the population.  The most regrettable danger to the peace process might be the disastrous economic situation faced by the country.  While the Burundians themselves were primarily responsible for what happened to country, the role of the international community was not negligible.

Today, he continued, those institutions were there, but increasingly discredited, as was the peace agreement itself.  The subregion had the means to prevent the armed groups from taking the peace process hostage.  It was a region that had imposed an economic embargo on Burundi in order to force it to engage with the armed groups.  His Government would continue and intensify its bilateral contacts with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United Republic of Tanzania, so that the necessary pressure could be brought to bear on the armed groups, with a view to achieving and signing a ceasefire as soon as possible.


Even if international financial institutions set impossible conditions on his country, it was determined to move forward and implement the provisions of the peace agreement, he said.  It was als determined to implement the reforms that its resources would allow and facilitate further talks with the armed groups.  The Burundian population and Government were placing its hopes in the initiatives proposed by the Council, so the country could be saved before it was too late.  That would only be possible if all partners fulfilled their commitments now.  He hoped that the inter-Congolese dialogue would continue and would become as inclusive as possible.  He was particularly interested in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups, including Burundian rebels.  The proposal for the creation of a buffer zone was an interesting one, and his country was prepared to support it.


Mr. LEVITTE (France) thanked the speakers for their remarks.  With regard to the comments by South Africa, he explained that in paragraph 23 of its report the mission was dealing strictly with the ceasefire agreement and its texts.  He hoped that the inter-Congolese dialogue would be completed at a closing ceremony bringing together all of the participants, without exception.  However, the peace process was in a delicate phase right now.  There was a risk that it could crystallize into two opposing blocks, which could lead to partition.  That risk was one which prompted the mission to say that it would be desirable to promote direct and discreet contacts.


Before the opening of the talks in Sun City, there had been two prior meetings among the three parties themselves in Geneva and Abuja, he said.  Both of those meetings allowed them to prepare the way for Sun City.  What the Mission had in mind was to promote a discreet dialogue in the present situation, in a spirit of openness, so the parties could arrive at some sort of inclusive agreement.


JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the mission had returned from the Great Lakes region convinced that there was a real chance to move forward if the inter-Congolese dialogue could be brought to a conclusion that fit the Lusaka Accord and the relevant resolutions.  In conversations with the Presidents of the countries the mission had visited, it had become quite clear that they were prepared to work on the basis of a successful dialogue in working out the rest of the programme established under the Lusaka Accord.


He said the successful conclusion of the inter-Congolese dialogue was a watershed.  It was more than just one opportunity among many; rather, it was the opportunity to make progress at a time when the fighting had died down.  It was also an opportunity for the Congolese people to have quite a different future from the future they would otherwise face.


For information media. Not an official record.