|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECRETARY-GENERAL’S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE
FOR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Deeply concerned about renewed hostilities, Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), said at Headquarters today that he had proposed a comprehensive disengagement plan to the Security Council and asked for additional forces.
At a press conference about his presentation to the Council this afternoon, Mr. Doss said the proposed disengagement plan would involve a ceasefire, followed by a separation of forces and a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. The plan had been accepted by the Government and most armed groups. However, General Laurent Nkunda, of the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP), who had initially indicated he would discuss the plan, seemed to be “backtracking”.
MONUC would continue to monitor the situation in North Kivu, he said, adding that the Mission had intervened occasionally to protect the civilian population. As a result of the fighting, the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate, due to an increasing number of internally displaced persons. Rising ethnic tensions could lead to a “very dangerous” situation, and the proposed disengagement plan should, therefore, be implemented as soon as possible. MONUC itself had been the subject of some hostility, and, while understanding the frustration of the population, particularly internally displaced persons, the Mission was not the cause of their problems.
He said the new activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Orientale Province were also a matter of concern, as MONUC’s capacity to protect was very limited. The Mission had responded robustly to new violence in Ituri, where elements of the Front de Resistance Populaire de I’Ituri (FRPI) had carried out attacks, and it would continue to use its mandate to protect civilians, while supporting the national armed forces through training and joint operations.
Mr. Doss also underlined that, for the proposed comprehensive disengagement plan to succeed, it must include all armed groups, as they operated in much the same areas. It was not acceptable that General Nkunda had made remarks indicating that he was walking away from the peace process. Efforts to reverse the result of democratically held elections, monitored by the United Nations, were unacceptable to the Organization and the international community.
In response to questions, he said he could not put a number on his request for additional forces. It was not only a matter of numbers, but also of the mix, including air mobility. Aware of the strained peacekeeping budget, MONUC was certainly looking at reconfiguration within the current force, but additional forces would be required for stabilization and to help implement the disengagement plan in the separation-of-forces stage and the containment of armed groups. Real- time intelligence, through the use of unmanned “drone” aircraft, for instance, was also important. The request was for a “surge capacity”, rather than a permanent addition.
Asked about General Nkunda’s statement that the CNDP had never implied it would take the fight outside North Kivu, he said he had not heard that latest one, but an earlier statement had created great anxiety and was not helpful to the peace process. General Nkunda had initially indicated his willingness to discuss the disengagement plan.
It was up to the Security Council to instruct the Mission, he said, adding that he had made it clear to Council members that the proposed disengagement plan envisioned a “convince or compel” dimension. The plan could be executed within the current strong mandate and it was for the Council to pronounce itself. MONUC was not looking for a revised mandate, but for the support of the Council and the troop-contributing countries.
Asked about the relocation of FDLR forces, he said the preference was to repatriate them. Some progress had been made in that regard -– some 1,100 combatants and families had been sent home to Rwanda since January -– but the process was not fast enough. A strong effort against the FDLR was necessary in order to “convince or compel”.
In response to another question, he said the International Criminal Court had the power to request documents and information from MONUC, which was cooperating in that regard, with the Office of Legal Affairs as a conduit. Those documents ran to thousands of pages which had to be vetted and redacted by the Mission, in case they contained information that could put people at risk.
As for the case of Indian Colonel Chand Saroha [who had made comments in support of General Nkunda before leaving the country], he said that case had been referred to the Indian authorities, and he did not know what measures they had taken. Although the remarks had clearly been inappropriate, and he had spoken without authority, it was worth remembering that Colonel Sahora was the same Colonel Sahora who had had to open fire on the CNDP last December, when his unit had prevented the CNDP from entering Sake. Without MONUC, the CNDP would have been in Sake and Goma. “That does not excuse at all what he did, we have said that, but he did not roll over last December.”
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