Bento Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said new steps towards peace and stability are prerequisites for the mission, known as Monusco, to withdraw responsibly, in line with the planned withdrawal.
Crisis in the East
The security and humanitarian situation in Ituri, North and South-East Kivu provinces continues to be a source of grave concern to the international community.
Amid ongoing violence by armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the May 22 eruption of Mount Nyiragongo led to large-scale population movements, exacerbating existing challenges posed by COVID-19 Pandemic and re-emergence Ebola.
Bomb explosions were recently recorded in the town of Beni, and inter-tribal tensions have flared in Ituri and South Kivu.
Ms Keita warned that “civilians remain under grave threat from attacks by armed groups and in the broader security context”.
Describing the recent political developments, Ms Keita said that a new coalition government, the Sacred Union of the Nation, had recently taken power, and Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lokonde Kenji was inaugurated on April 26.
Fifteen women hold ministerial positions, which is an increase of nearly 30 percent over the previous government.
It also noted the recent declaration of a “state of siege” in Ituri and North Kivu provinces – where violence perpetrated by armed groups was among the worst in the country – and welcomed the new Government’s commitments to improve the protection of civilians, combat those who commit crimes against them, and hold national and local elections in year 2023.
Ms. Keita drew the Council’s attention, in particular, to an action plan recently issued by the new government aimed at neutralizing violent armed groups.
It also includes a new program for the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and stabilization of ex-combatants.
Withdrawal from the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
As previously requested by the Council, Ms. Keita announced the establishment of a joint task force in which the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the Congolese government will work together, to advance the promising new action plan.
Its first task, which began on 5 July, will be to develop a transition and phase-out plan for MONUSCO, including concrete milestones and indicators, to be submitted to the Council in September.
Discussions on the gradual withdrawal of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) have been underway since 2018, when the long-awaited peaceful handover brought President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Chilombo to power.
The joint mission drawdown strategy, drawn up in 2020, is gradually strengthening the UN footprint in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri.
MONUSCO’s operations in Kasai ended in June, and in accordance with the joint strategy, the mission will also withdraw from Tanganyika Province by mid-2022, if conditions permit.