Ms. Keita, who also heads the United Nations mission in the country, MONUSCOHe urged officials to use the transitional period to overcome obstacles and take advantage of opportunities to achieve progress and reforms.
In her speech at the virtual meeting in French, she said, “Indeed, we cannot ignore the persistent challenges, weaknesses and remaining obstacles, and overcoming them will require the international community and the government to speak with one voice and act with one accord.” .
Momentum for Change
Ms. Keita, who was previously a senior official in UN Peacekeeping Operations and Political Affairs, was appointed by the Secretary-General in January. Since her arrival in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she has met President Felix Tshisekedi and other senior Congolese officials, and representatives of civil society.
Turning to the English language, she identified opportunities before 2023, including the formation of a new government, noting “there is momentum for change that can be built.”
The head of the UN mission said she stressed to the commanders that the new government must act urgently in many areas that also overlap with MONUSCO’s priorities, such as reforming military and police forces, effective protection of civilians, and ensuring that combatants are disarmed.
She added, “I stress to all stakeholders the need to work within the constitutional framework and organize elections in a timely and comprehensive manner, while respecting the electoral calendar.”
Silence of the guns
Moving to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Ms. Keita briefed the ambassadors on her ongoing strategy towards final withdrawal from the country. The mission is preparing to close field offices in the Kasai region in June and in Tanganyika next year, while strengthening cooperation with United Nations agencies working in the fields of humanitarian aid, development and the rule of law.
However, the situation is different in the Kivus and Ituri provinces, which are located in the restive eastern region of the country, given the serious security and protection challenges and the ongoing humanitarian challenges.
“To silence the guns, there is not only a military solution, but political strategies,” Ms. Keita said. “These strategies must take into account and address many of the social, economic and governance needs, including those related to managing the security apparatus, addressing the fundamental challenges of land insecurity, and improving transparency and accountability in the mining sector.”
Meanwhile, President Tshisekedi’s assumption of the presidency of the African Union is another opportunity to progress, according to Ms. Keita.
“This presidency not only represents the return of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the African theater, but it should also make it possible to demonstrate the commitment of the country and the region to permanently silencing the guns throughout this part of the continent.