Distrust Still Weighs on Democratic Republic of Congo Electoral Process, Special Representative Says in Briefing to Security Council

SC/13435
26 July 2018
8318th Meeting (AM)

Distrust Still Weighs on Democratic Republic of Congo Electoral Process, Special Representative Says in Briefing to Security Council

Permanent Representative Stresses Need to Abstain from Rhetoric or Conduct that Can Raise Tensions, Stoke Unrest

While upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have generated “great expectations” for shoring up the county’s stability, the electoral process continues to suffer from distrust between the political opposition and the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative in that country told the Security Council today.

Speaking via videoconference from Kinshasa, the capital, Leila Zerrougui, who is also Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said that complaints about voting machines and voter registration are among the grievances laid out by five parties and platforms — the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, “Ensemble”, the Union for the Congolese Nation, the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo, and “La Dynamique” — in a joint declaration on 23 July.

She went on to express concern over the poor implementation of confidence‑building measures, noting that only a few of the 4,109 prisoners set to be released fall within that scope, while the release of “emblematic” figures is completely ruled out.  Peaceful demonstrations are suppressed, civil society actors and political opponents arbitrarily arrested and media workers threatened, she said, declaring:  “Conditions for a level playing field are not yet in place.”  Moreover, MONUSCO personnel are increasingly being targeted, notably in the Beni area, she said, underlining that, with its $38.8 million budget much lower than the one proposed by the Secretary‑General, the Mission would be limited in its operational ability to respond to emerging protection risks.

Justine Masika Bihamba, Chair of the Board of Directors of Synergy of Women for Victims of Sexual Violence, said those risks are only growing worse for women, noting that the 2018 forecasts for rape and violence in North Kivu Province are up by more than 60 per cent.  Furthermore, the electoral law promulgated on 24 December 2017 imposes a $1,000 deposit on candidates — an “astronomical” sum for women living on less than $1 a day.  She urged the Council to exert pressure on the Government to implement a policy that truly promotes women’s participation in decision‑making and elections.  It should also materially support civil society groups working to defend women’s rights, she said.

Kuwait’s representative, speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that on 1 February, that body approved the addition to its sanctions list of four names belonging to individuals who continue to threaten peace and security in the country.

In the ensuing debate, several delegates cited the 19 July joint communiqué issued by the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council as a unified message to Congolese political actors.  Ethiopia’s delegate said the joint communiqué sent a clear and unified message to Congolese political actors while providing a useful framework for dealing with the situation going forward.  For MONUSCO, she said that moving additional rapid‑deployment battalions to the Kasais and Tanganyika will be important for containing violence in rural hotspots.

On that point, Côte d’Ivoire’s representative encouraged the Congolese armed forces and MONUSCO to shore up their joint operations in North and South Kivu.  He also called upon the Southern African Development Community (SADC), among other organizations, to harmonize their actions in support of the elections.

Others encouraged full respect for the Constitution.  The United States delegate emphasized the need to ensure that power is handed over in a democratic manner, noting that President Joseph Kabila Kabange is unable to seek a third term.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative, meanwhile, stressed that only inter‑Congolese dialogue will allow the Democratic Republic of the Congo to form a Government of national unity and make distrust a thing of the past.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reiterated the desire of his country’s Government to organize peaceful elections.  All political actors must abstain from rhetoric or conduct that could raise tensions or stoke unrest.  The Government has worked to ensure compliance with the 31 December 2016 political agreement on the release of so‑called political prisoners, he said, while underlining that outstanding “emblematic” cases involve individuals who have been found guilty of common law offences.  He said the Government’s decision to cover the costs of the elections itself is a matter of national sovereignty, but partners wishing to assist can do so by providing the electoral commission with aircraft, among other things.  On the security front, he expressed regret that, four months after the renewal of MONUSCO’s mandate, the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade has yet to be operationalized.

Also speaking today were representatives of France, United Kingdom, Poland, Peru, Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Bolivia, Kuwait (in his national capacity), China, Russian Federation and Sweden.

The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 12:15 p.m.

Briefings

LEILA ZERROUGUI, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said that, five months ahead of the 23 December elections, preparations have reached a “key turning point”.  While the upcoming elections are generating great expectations for shoring up stability in the country and throughout the region, and critical steps set out in the schedule have been met, the electoral process continues to suffer from suspicion and distrust between the opposition and the Independent National Electoral Commission, she noted.

Speaking via videoconference from Kinshasa, she said opposition grievances focus on voting machines, the voter registration list and the absence of a replacement for a delegate of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress in the Electoral Commission Office.  The grievances were put forward by five parties and platforms — the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, “Ensemble”, the Union for the Congolese Nation, the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo, and “La Dynamique” — through a joint declaration on 23 July, which called for the return of key figures and release of political prisoners, alongside the implementation of de‑escalation measures.

She said that on 24 July, Jean-Pierre Bemba, Chair of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo and candidate for president, held his first press conference in Brussels to confirm that he will return to Kinshasa on 1 August to submit his candidacy.  Moïse Katumbi did likewise, without specifying the date of his return, while the new political platform under the authority of President Joseph Kabila Kabange, the Common Front for the Congo, has yet to designate its candidate.

Yet, even amid immense logistical and financial challenges, all major political parties have enrolled candidates for provincial legislative elections, she said, adding that candidates in some remote areas travelled nearly 1,500 kilometres to deposit their candidacies.  She said that she is encouraged by the engagement between the Independent National Electoral Commission and political parties, which led to several deadline extensions for the registration of provincial legislative candidates, thereby ensuring that the process is more inclusive and legitimate.  More than 18,000 candidacies, competing for 715 seats, have been received, with initial indications suggesting that women comprise less than 12 per cent of all registered candidates, said, calling for greater female representation.

She went on to express concern over the poor implementation of confidence‑building measures.  While the Minister for Justice announced the release of 4,109 prisoners, only a few of them entered the scope of such measures, and the release of emblematic figures is completely ruled out.  Peaceful demonstrations are suppressed, while civil society actors and political opponents continue to suffer arbitrary arrest, and media workers to face threats.  “Thus, conditions for a level playing field are not yet in place,” she said, emphasizing that without progress on those fronts, the credibility of the upcoming elections could be at risk.

Noting that MONUSCO’s logistical support for the elections was initially planned to begin today, she said the Electoral Commission has received no such request and the Mission will soon need clarity from the Council in this regard.  The security environment, meanwhile, remains volatile, and is deteriorating in some areas amid inter‑community violence and the activities of local armed groups.  She voiced particular concern about the Kasais — where various dissident militia factions remain at large — and about North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema and Tanganyika Provinces.  Welcoming the calming of tensions in Ituri Province, she noted MONUSCO’s “immense” efforts to support local authorities, including its deployment of three standing combat contingents to the highest risk areas, thereby realizing the Mission’s “protection through projection” approach.

However, MONUSCO personnel are increasingly being targeted, notably in the Beni area, she said, noting that a number of staff had been abducted last week in Uvira.  In the coming months, MONUSCO will operate in an increasingly tense environment, navigating it with fewer resources since the General Assembly’s $38.8 million budget is significantly lower than the one proposed by the Secretary‑General, which would impact the Mission’s operational ability.  “While MONUSCO’s resources continue to shrink, our mandate remains the same and expectations only continue to grow,” she said.  The Mission will therefore be limited in its ability to respond to all emerging protection risks, particularly in urban areas or those where it has no presence.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo is at crossroads, she stressed, calling upon all stakeholders to seize this opportunity to enable the conduct of inclusive, transparent elections on 23 December, thereby paving the way for a more stable future.

Mansour Ayyad Sh. A. Alotaibi (Kuwait), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, provided an overview of that body’s work since the beginning of 2018.  On 1 February, the Committee approved the addition of four individuals who continue to threaten peace and security in the country to its sanctions list.  The Committee held several other meetings, including with members of its Group of Experts, who presented an overview of the findings and recommendations of their final report.  He added that the Committee continues to support the work of the Senior Official and his team of technical experts supporting the Government in its investigation into the murders of two members of the Group of Experts, Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp, in March 2017.

Looking forward, he said the coming months will be critical for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Committee will remain vigilant and ensure that its work and that of the Group of Experts contributes to peace and stability in the country and the region.  He said that, to that end, he will continue to collaborate with relevant parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region to obtain updated information on the situation and to promote further synergy in the Committee’s work.  He went on to summarize a number of other activities under the Committee’s consideration, including a likely meeting in which the Group of Experts will present its programme of work, possible meetings to discuss the arms embargo, to provide an update on efforts by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other Member States to address the illegal exploitation and smuggling of natural resources by armed groups, and on actions taken towards establishing a responsible minerals trade.

JUSTINE MASIKA BIHAMBA, Chair of the Board of Directors of Synergy of Women for Victims of Sexual Violence, a platform of 35 women’s rights groups, said the situation of women — particularly victims of sexual violence — is getting worse by the day due to the proliferation of armed groups.  In North Kivu, the forecasts for rape and violence in 2018 are up by more than 60 per cent, she noted.  The political climate, meanwhile, is very tense, characterized by the brutal repression of dissident voices, accompanied by Government efforts to further reduce freedom of expression and civic space.

She went on to describe the electoral law promulgated on 24 December 2017 as a serious obstacle to the rights and freedoms of the Congolese people.  Among other things, it discriminated against women by imposing a $1,000 deposit on electoral candidates, an astronomical sum when many women and young people live on less than $1 a day.  She added that 65 per cent of the country’s population, most of them women and young people, is illiterate and would therefore have enormous difficulties in using voting machines.

Setting out a number of recommendations, she asked the Council to exert pressure on the Government to implement a policy that truly promotes women’s participation in decision‑making and elections, and to request that the Government respect freedom of expression, the right to demonstrate and the civic space of the Congolese people.  She also recommended that the Council require that the Government respect the Saint‑Sylvestre agreement, the Constitution and the rule of law.  She added that MONUSCO should reopen bases in flashpoint areas in order to more effectively protect civilians, support the electoral process and ensure that the Joint Human Rights Office effectively document human rights violations through field visits.  Finally, she recommended that the Council materially support civil society organizations working to promote and defend women’s rights.

Statements

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said the shared priority is to ensure that the elections are held with full respect for the Constitution and that power is handed over in a democratic manner, emphasizing that unity is vital for the process to succeed.  The Council must work with the African Union and regional States, he said, welcoming the 19 July joint communiqué adopted by the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council.  Stressing the need for trust among Congolese, he said the voter registry has “room for improvement”.  He urged the Government to convey all necessary information to MONUSCO so that the Mission could deliver its support in due time.  The Election Commission must take a transparent approach, ensuring that all Congolese have access to the voting machines, and that the public trust the technical preparations.  He also urged the lifting of the prohibition on public demonstrations, full implementation of de‑escalation measures, notably the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and an end to politically motivated judicial proceedings.  France welcomed the Council’s new sanctions against those accused of human rights violations and encouraged the authorities to investigate promptly the abuses reported by the Human Rights Council, he said.

JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States) stressed that his delegation expected President Kabila to abide by the Constitution and the 31 December agreement, as he is not able to seek a third term.  Expressing regret that the President did not use his 19 July speech in Parliament to clarify his intensions, he said that he expected the Government to take advantage of the support MONUSCO has offered, and the Election Commission to make a request for that support in a timely fashion.  MONUSCO cannot afford to wait until the last moment to put its plans in place, he emphasized.  He went on to note that the deployment of more than 100,000 untested and possibly unworkable voting machines poses an enormous and unnecessary risk, asking what the Government would do if they malfunctioned.  He commended MONUSCO’s quick response to violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, while expressing concern over the human rights abuses there that had forced tens of thousands of people to flee.  He stressed that the United States will not stop its pursuit of accountability for those who murdered Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp, while urging the Council to push for well‑planned elections, including through bilateral negotiations and possibly targeted sanctions against those threatening peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) said the joint communiqué issued by the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council last week sent a clear and unified message to Congolese political actors while providing a useful framework for dealing with the situation going forward.  Welcoming the idea of a proposed October Security Council visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the participation of the African Union Peace and Security Council, she expressed hope that the necessary arrangements will be made so that it can happen.  On MONUSCO, she said the deployment of additional rapid deployment battalions in the Kasais and in Tanganyika will be important for containing violence in rural hotspots.  She added that Ethiopia welcomes the official announcement that the Ebola outbreak in the country has ended.

OBIANG ESONO MBENGONO (Equatorial Guinea) emphasized that only through inter‑Congolese dialogue will it be possible for the Democratic Republic of the Congo to form a government of national unity and make distrust a thing of the past.  Noting that the Secretary‑General’s report details considerable progress in electoral preparations, he said various post‑electoral scenarios must be considered and preventative measures adopted accordingly.  Technical issues that might cause tensions or disputes, including those related to voting machines, must be resolved.  He went on to call for regional cooperation to pursue criminal networks and combat the illegal exploitation of natural resources, cautioning that, without such cooperation, the Council will be dealing with problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for years to come.

STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom), emphasizing that sanctions remain an important tool for addressing threats in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, expressed concern over human rights violations there, notably the increase in sexual exploitation and abuse.  All such allegations must be swiftly investigated and perpetrators brought to justice, he said.  Stressing that the 31 December agreement must be upheld, he voiced concern over the lack of progress in implementing the confidence‑building measures outlined therein, including by respecting the electoral timeline.  The Council makes clear in resolution 1325 (2000) that women must be encouraged to participate in all stages of peace processes, he recalled, expressing concern over the impact of the electoral law on women’s participation and the shortage of women candidates.  The Council must remain closely engaged in the run‑up to the elections, he said, welcoming its plans for a visit.  All stakeholders must abide by the Constitution, respect the 31 December agreement and take steps on the ground to create a conducive environment for free and fair elections, he reiterated.

PAWEL RADOMSKI (Poland) expressed concern about the distrust among political actors over confidence‑building measures and the opening of political space, adding that the lack of commitment among all political actors could undermine the political process.  Calling upon the Government to ensure that the elections are held on time and with requisite transparency and inclusivity, he said the peaceful and timely transfer of power — as set out in the electoral calendar and in accordance with the Constitution — is a prerequisite.  Expressing concern over the humanitarian situation, he said violence by foreign and domestic armed groups, as well as the smuggling of natural resources, all had negative impacts on the country.  Poland called for full implementation of the arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze imposed on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, while calling upon that country’s Government to address human rights violations, notably sexual abuse.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) expressed deep concern over the security situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the humanitarian crisis.  Emphasizing the importance of fostering an atmosphere of trust and inclusiveness to ensure mass participation in the elections and peaceful acceptance of the results, he called for swift action on confidence‑building measures, ensuring the security of all political actors and their supporters, the verification of voting machines and sufficient financing of the electoral process.  He said MONUSCO must step up its human rights monitoring role, while calling upon the United Nations, the African Union and other partners to begin work on an immediate strategy in support of the humanitarian situation.  He added that it is essential to address the root causes of the crisis, including by promoting sustainable development and combating the illegal exploitation of natural resources.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) noted her country’s awarding of a human rights prize to Ms. Bihamba.  As for the upcoming elections, she said there has undoubtedly been some progress in preparing for them, but trust remains low.  One‑and‑a‑half years since the signing of the New Year’s Eve agreement, a great deal remains to be done.  Noting that more than 100 political prisoners remain behind bars, she demanded an end to harassment, intimidation and threats against civil society and political parties, declaring:  “The Democratic Republic of the Congo cannot afford elections that lack credibility.”  Calling for significant and tangible progress, she noted Kinshasa’s postponement of a visit by the Secretary‑General and the President of the African Union Commission, stressing that the Council must keep a close eye on developments, including the option of a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Describing the humanitarian situation as extremely troubling, with millions in urgent need despite a total of $500 million pledged by the donor community, she said that, meanwhile, the security situation has deteriorated in some places, with women and children paying the heaviest price.  The Council must act, including through the sanctions regime, she stressed, calling for an end to impunity.  She also cautioned that a fresh deterioration of the security situation will represent a genuine threat to MONUSCO’s mandate, emphasizing that “protection through projection” will require a herculean effort to bear fruit.

DESIRE WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire) called upon all political actors to create conditions conducive to peaceful elections, in accordance with the 19 July African Union‑Security Council joint communiqué.  He encouraged the Government to adopt all measures to guarantee the availability of resources in order to avoid delays in the electoral timetable, to lift the ban on public demonstrations and to create conditions favourable to the expression of basic individual and collective freedoms.  Citing areas of divergence among Congolese stakeholders — notably the electoral registry audit — he encouraged all political actors, the Government and civil society to seek compromise.  Concerned about violence by armed groups in North and South Kivu, he encouraged the Congolese armed forces and MONUSCO to shore up their joint operations.  He also called upon the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, African Union, European Union and the International Organization of la Francophonie to harmonize their actions in support of the 23 December elections.

DIDAR TEMENOV (Kazakhstan) said Member States must support all the confidence‑building measures provided for in the 31 December 2016 agreement while helping to ensure an inclusive and peaceful transition of power and the full participation of women.  The African Union, MONUSCO and the Organization of la Francophonie will play a vital role in that electoral process, he said.  Expressing concern over the deteriorating security situation due to the increasing activities of armed groups in North and South Kivu, he said that his delegation supports MONUSCO’s reconfiguration to better address such security issues.  Increasing State authority as well as reliable security and law enforcement throughout the country are also critical to reinforcing the capabilities of the national armed forces.  He also voiced concern over the country’s humanitarian crisis — exacerbated by the recent Ebola outbreak — and the documented cases of conflict‑related sexual violence that remained outstanding.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) welcomed the Government’s commitment to compliance with electoral calendar deadlines, and expressed hope that all registered voters will cast their ballots.  Calling upon all parties to implement confidence‑building measures, in accordance with the 31 December 2016 agreement, he emphasized that the Government must take the lead, working with the opposition on a collaborative basis in the run‑up to the elections, and with the full participation of women in the electoral commissions, in accordance with the African Union‑Security Council communiqué of 19 July.  Welcoming efforts by SADC, ECCAS and the African Union to support the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said that its lack of sovereign control over its natural resources has been exploited by transnational organized groups, which have destabilized the country.  Sovereign control over resource‑rich areas is vital for national economic development, he emphasized, urging all armed groups to end all violence, disband immediately, lay down their arms and release children forced into their ranks.

Mr. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), speaking in his national capacity, said confidence‑building measures must be respected, in accordance with the 2016 New Year’s Eve agreement, and expressed support for the African Union‑Security Council joint communiqué of 19 July.  Expressing concern over continued violence, he said conflict exhausts human and natural resources.  He welcomed MONUSCO’s efforts to push back against armed attacks and called upon all those behind the clashes to end the fighting.  On the humanitarian front, he said the international community must help to mitigate the suffering of the 13.1 million people requiring assistance, including refugees and internally displaced persons.  He welcomed last Tuesday’s announcement of steps to be taken in tackling Ebola, and commended the Government’s tireless efforts to contain the outbreak.

ZHANG DIANBIN (China) said a political settlement is the only way to address issues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Council should continue to support the mediation efforts of regional players while listening to the views of the Government and respecting its ownership of the political process.  The international community should focus on addressing the root causes of the conflict and helping the Government deal with social and economic issues.  He commended the efforts of MONUSCO’s peacekeepers and called for greater cooperation to ensure their security.

MR. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that President Kabila put out the right message in his recent statement that he will comply with the Constitution.  Underscoring the need to provide international support for the electoral process, including by leveraging MONUSCO’s logistical capacity, he called on Council colleagues not to stoke tensions around the use of electronic voting machines, pointing out that the devices were not intended for counting ballots, as many erroneously asserted.  Rather, they alleviated the need to print ballots, which will be counted manually.  Acknowledging the need for confidence‑building efforts, he called on opposition forces to ensure cooperation with Kinshasa and the Election Commission, respect national sovereignty and forestall any manifestation of violence.  On MONUSCO, he emphasized that the protection of civilians must be done in accordance with basic peacekeeping principles.  The Mission must take no action that could be seen as support for any side.  Elections in and of themselves are no panacea, he said, stressing the need to eradicate the root causes of conflict.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), Council President for July, spoke in his national capacity, agreeing that the elections represent an essential step towards resolving the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s political challenges.  Expressing support for confidence‑building measures among the parties, he emphasized that the country’s humanitarian situation remains dire and has been rendered more challenging by the recent Ebola outbreak.  Commending the Government’s response efforts — which led to it declare the outbreak over earlier this week — he encouraged international partners to demonstrate the same commitment by contributing to the $1.68 billion Humanitarian Response Plan for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Noting that only 21 per cent of that total has been met, he said that some 7.7 million food‑insecure people require support.  Citing the “appalling levels” of human rights abuses and violations in the country, he pointed out that the murders of two United Nations experts — one Swedish and one from the United States — remain unresolved 16 months after the fact.

IGNACE GATA MAVITA WA LUFUTA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that preparations for the 23 December elections are going smoothly, with 40 million voters registered and an awareness‑raising campaign under way to raise trust and ease doubts.  Central to that campaign is an explanation of the ballot‑printing machines, which have been wrongly described as voting machines.  Parliament has adopted various legal texts dealing with such election‑related issues as the distribution of seats, he said, adding that the International Organization of la Francophonie has carried out an audit of the electoral roll and provided recommendations on how to improve it.  To date, the Election Commission has received 19,437 applications for provincial election candidates, he said, pointing out that today marks the beginning of the period for applying to participate in legislative and presidential elections.  It will continue until 8 August, he added.

He went on to reiterate the Government’s desire to organize peaceful elections, emphasizing that all political actors must abstain from rhetoric or conduct that could raise tensions or stoke unrest.  The Government expects all stakeholders to constructively support the electoral process through positive actions, he said, adding that it expects as much from international partners as well.  The Government has undertaken several measures to ensure compliance with the 31 December 2016 political agreement regarding the release of so‑called political prisoners, he said, while emphasizing that outstanding “emblematic” cases involve individuals who have been found guilty of common law offences.  Turning to funding of the elections, he said that — like anywhere else in the world — is a matter of national sovereignty, and for that reason, the Government has decided to cover the cost itself.  However, partners wishing to assist can do so at the logistical level by providing the Election Commission with aircraft, among other things.

Turning to the security situation, he said the Government remains determined to end insecurity in the east, particularly in North Kivu and South Kivu Provinces, given the ongoing presence of the Allied Democratic Forces and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda as well as the emergence of other armed groups.  As previously stated before the Council, combating foreign and domestic armed groups requires the combined efforts of the Government and the United Nations, he said, expressing regret that, four months after the renewal of MONUSCO’s mandate, the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade has yet to be operationalized.  Emphasizing that armed groups draw most of their income, weapons and ammunition from the illegal exploitation of natural resources, he called upon the Council to take appropriate measures against the beneficiaries of that illicit trade.

He went on to state that the Government is pursuing efforts to address sexual violence.  On the humanitarian situation, he said that the Government, at a meeting on 30 March, put the number of internally displaced people at 231,346, spread across 79 sites around the entire country.  To address the situation, it created a national solidarity fund, alongside a humanitarian rehabilitation and response programme.  International partners are welcome to contribute to those efforts, he said, conveying the Government’s appreciation for the help provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and non‑governmental organizations in response to the recent Ebola outbreak.  He reassured Council members of the Government’s determination to organize elections in accordance with the electoral calendar, while appealing to all people of good faith to denounce any domestic or foreign attempts to disrupt the process.

For information media. Not an official record.