In the early morning of Saturday, 27 January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by his wife, Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, from Paris, France, following refuelling stops in Cairo, Egypt and Entebbe, Uganda.
Prior to his arrival, he had a brief press encounter at the Cairo stopover with reporters travelling with him. “It is important for the international community, particularly the United Nations, to encourage the Government and people of the Congo in their very noble and challenging efforts to solidify their democratic process,” he said.
He began a very full programme during his 48-hour visit with a briefing on Saturday morning, less than six hours after his arrival in the capital, by his Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, William Lacey Swing.
The Secretary-General then met with Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga, the first of a series of meetings with Congolese leaders.
After that meeting, the Secretary-General travelled to the Palais du Peuple, Plenary Hall, where he had talks with its National Assembly President, Vital Kamerhe, and delivered a keynote address to the 500-member Parliament in which he encouraged the Government and people of the Congo in their very noble and challenging efforts to solidify their democratic process. He pledged to do everything possible to ensure continuity and support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo in this critical post-electoral period. The Secretary-General also called for all the parties represented in the Assembly to place the interests of the Congolese people foremost and expressed his hope that the country’s institutions, notably the Senate, would reflect the different currents of opinion exhibited in the country. See Press Release SG/SM/10859
From the National Assembly, he and Madam Ban visited the Kalembelembe Pediatric Hospital, where he witnessed and met with a dedicated team of doctors and nurses in the only facility of its kind in the country, treating scores of children suffering from HIV/AIDS.
He then met with opposition leaders before holding a press conference.
At around midday, he and Madam Ban visited the Western Brigade headquarters of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and had lunch with peacekeepers and staff serving in the UN’s largest peacekeeping operation. He observed a Guard of Honour and also held a Town Hall meeting with the staff before departing Kinshasa for a three hour visit to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo.
He travelled by helicopter across the Congo River from Kinshasa to Brazzaville, where he held a meeting with Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, current President of the African Union. He spoke to reporters afterwards.
After returning to Kinshasa, he and Madam Ban attended a dinner hosted by the President of the National Assembly.
Early on Sunday morning, the Secretary-General left Kinshasa for a visit to Kisangani.
He first visited the Eastern Brigade headquarters in the heart of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he observed a Guard of Honour, laid a wreath to fallen peacekeepers and then received a briefing on the mission’s operations in that part of the country before addressing the men and women working in the East.
The Secretary-General then travelled to the Governor’s Palace in Kisangani and held a meeting with President Joseph Kabila. That was the last official function in the country.
Before departing Kisangani on Sunday afternoon for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend the African Union Summit, the Secretary-General held a brief press conference at the airport.