By Staff


This week the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a four month extension of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (MONUC) from 1 October 2006 to 15 February 2007 to allow sufficient time for consultations with the new government on the Mission’s future role.  The current mandate was to expire on 30 September as per the Security Council resolution 1635 (2005) of 28 October 2005. In addition the European Union Military Mission in the DRC, EUFOR, sounded unlikely to extend its mission despite growing calls for the necessity to do so.


The Secretary-General called for authorization to reinforce troop numbers when necessary and ask the Council to extend the authorization to temporarily redeploy troops from the UN Operation in Burundi, ONUB, to MONUC as required. In addition he called for similar extensions in the police and civilian components while stressing the need for the 29 October run-off contest between the incumbent President Joseph Kabila and his Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba to be credible and transparent.  

The Secretary-General’s request follows Congolese opposition party claims that the process lacked impartiality and transparency, particularly regarding the number of supplementary ballot papers and the publication of the voters list. The same opposition noted there had been irregularities in the first round of voting.
During the voting, the opposition accused some Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) officials of taking advantage of lack of literacy of the majority of the Congolese by filling in the ballot paper with a presidential candidate that did not reflect the voter’s true choice.

Regarding these problems, the Secretary-General’s 22nd Report on the DRC indicated that this situation was limited in scope and area. It affected only 239 of the 50,000 polling stations, all located in the Kasaïs.  In fact, 172 polling stations in Kasaï Oriental, most of them in Mbuji-Mayi, experienced delivery delays following the burning of trucks delivering election materials.  Also nine stations were set on fire while in Kasaï Occidental 58 polling stations were destroyed.    


Although voting irregularities may continue in the second round of elections, GLCSS expects that security issues will play a larger role and this includes the current state of army integration, disarmament, and demobilization. Security issues are still reported in the country and most are related to the failure or/and unwillingness of some militias to integrate into the regular army.


The disarmament, demobilization and integration process has missed numerous deadlines and has not been completed. Some militia groups have resisted integration and disarmament. This issue is especially significant in a discussion of the remnants of Bemba’s MLC, which have remained armed and outside of the process. There are an estimated 6,000 remaining MLC soldiers that have not been disarmed or integrated into the FARDC.


On President Kabila’s side, his Presidential Guard is estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 soldiers, and this force remains outside the control of the integrated army. As demonstrated in recent armed clashes, the presence of both these forces presents significant security challenges.


So far only one battalion of Presidential Guards has finished the retraining and integration at Kibomango in Kinshasa on 14 September. The newly integrated battalion has 800 soldiers and is composed of 450 former Presidential Guards, 70 former MLC rebels of Vice President Bemba, 44 former rebels of RCD-Goma of Vice-president Azarias Ruberwa and 34 ex Maï Maï militia.


In North Kivu province another brigade was integrated this month but there are controversies surrounding its deployment. On 15 September 2006, the 14th Brigade, approximately 4,150 soldiers, completed their training at the Rumangabo training camp. However, it is not clear where the brigade will be deployed. While Defense Minister Adolphe Onusumba said it will be deployed in Masisi and Rutshuru territories, Azarias Ruberwa, Vice-President in charge of security and politics expressed security concerns about deploying in that area. Ruberwa’s statements came following a threat from Congolese dissident General Laurent Nkunda that his soldiers based in Masisi territory would fight the integrated soldiers once deployed there.

Laurent Nkunda has criticized the reintegration process arguing that it was not well prepared while pointing out that he would join the reintegration process when a memorandum with the FARDC is signed. Considering the current number of the integrated soldiers and financial difficulties reported in the process, GLCSS doubts that the DRC will meet the 1 December deadline to finish its army reorganization.        


According to the Secretary-General’s report, CONADER has demobilized more than 76,614 ex-combatants, including 19,000 children. However, some 85,000 troops are still to undergo the process. GLCSS believes the primary obstacle to completing demobilization and integration schedule will be the lack of budget, because the original $200 million budget has been exhausted.


Another challenge facing the electoral process is the large quantities of weapons in circulation and lack of enforcement of the arms embargo. Recently the UN Security Council expressed concern over the uncontrolled circulation of weapons and armed individuals in Kinshasa. GLCSS however believes the CIAT call for the cantonment of the security forces of both candidates and of FARDC troops in Kinshasa, and for a ban on the circulation of armed individuals is an important step to bring about security in Kinshasa. 


In addition, the National Police started a “weapons patrol” in Kinshasa on 25 September. The operation involved 1,200 policemen who were supported by 150 elements of the National Military Police. The operation came two days after the agreement between Kabila and Bemba to make Kinshasa a weapons-free zone.


In its previous reports, GLCSS indicated there have been movements of arms from Matadi port to Kinshasa and expressed concerns about the arms while calling for vigilance on the part of the international community.  In his recent report, the Secretary-General confirmed that pursuant to Security Council resolution 1596 (2005) of 18 April, MONUC inspected a shipment of military equipment and related materials, including tanks, armoured personnel vehicles and ammunition, at the Matadi port on 29 July. He further stressed that the Government had neither informed the Security Council Committee prior to the arrival of the cargo, nor invited the Mission to verify the type and quantity of military material, in violation of the resolution.

The Secretary-General also reported that on 24 and 25 August, without notice, FARDC moved seven truckloads of ammunition from Matadi to Kinshasa. While the Congolese Army acknowledged the movements, they declined to provide further details.  MONUC was informed on 12 September that nine T-55 tanks had been delivered during the night bringing the equipment now stored at a FARDC logistics base in Kinshasa to 12 T-55 tanks, 20 infantry combat vehicles and one APC. 


Illegal arms were also reported in the eastern DRC. The DRC Intelligence Agency (ANR) in Beni expressed concern to MONUC about the alleged continued smuggling of arms from Uganda to Butembo. According to Annan MONUC intends to submit a comprehensive report of its verification inspections to assist the work of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) and the Group of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1698 (2006). 


While the Security Council extended the MONUC mandate until 15 February 2007, it remains unclear if the EUFOR mandate will be extended. This week German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung ruled out any possibility to extend the mandate. He insisted the mission will have completed its mandate on 31 December as scheduled. According to EUFOR commander General Christian Damay, the security situation in Kinshasa is still volatile and he estimates that EUFOR is on alert for further violence.  


It is worth indicating however that while Franz Josef Jung ruled out any possibility of extension of the German-led EUFOR, Bernard Prevoest, the French ambassador in the DRC does not exclude the possibility of extending the European military mission once it becomes necessary and approved by both the Security Council and the DRC government.     
Diplomatic and military sources say the EU is under pressure to extend its deployment in Congo until January to prevent any resurgence of violence following the announcement of voting results at the end of November. However unconfirmed reports suggest that some German politicians are against the extension of EUFOR.


Meanwhile, preparations for the second round of the presidential elections and the provincial assembly elections are going on. As it has been the case in the first round, ballot papers are being printed in South Africa and reportedly MONUC, UNDP and the South Africa Government are undertaking the transportation of 60,000 electoral kits and 1,260 metric tons of ballot papers to the 14 centers in the DRC. MONUC will thereafter transport the kits and ballot papers to 166 territorial centers and cities while the Independent Electoral Commission will be responsible for their movement to the polling centers. 


The presidential run-off campaign will start on 13 October and end on 27 October as previously reported but provincial assembly candidates, estimated at 13,500 according to the CEI list, started their campaign this week. The inauguration of the new president is scheduled for 10 December and the senate will be elected on 29 December 2006.  

In summary, the security situation is relatively stable. However, a considerable number of issues remains and deserve urgent attention. According to the Secretary-General the challenges ahead after the upcoming run-off include strengthening democratic institutions, promoting the rule of law and basic human rights and providing security to the Congolese.

There are still both local and international militias including Mayi Mayi and the FDLR, who if not disarmed, can continue destabilizing the region.  In addition, the FARDC, which is unpaid, untrained, undisciplined, continued to commit human rights abuses, as reported by both national and international human right organizations operating in the DRC.  In September, MONUC’s Human Rights Division reported new cases of mass rape and abuse of civilians by the police in Equateur Province.

According to Jean-Tobbie Okala, the Deputy MONUC spokesman, a group of policemen may have raped 60 women, including two minors, and systematically tortured and plundered civilians’ property and forced the citizens to seek refuge in a nearby forest. This follows on the heels of seven soldiers convicted by a military court in the provincial capital, Mbandaka, and sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity committed in Equateur, including the mass rape of at least 119 women.  
The Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies is a London-based think tank with offices in Central and East Africa.

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