SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT,
Also Stresses Importance of Inter-Congolese Dialogue;
NEW YORK, 25 February (UN Headquarters) -- Calling on all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to display their political will in order to achieve a peaceful settlement and reconciliation, the Security Council this afternoon stressed the importance of the inter-Congolese dialogue, called for in the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, and reiterated its call for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the territory.
In a presidential statement, read by current Council President Adolfo Aguilar Zinser (Mexico), the Council welcomed the tenth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) (document S/2002/169) and stressed that the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration process of armed groups was another key element for the settlement of the conflict. In that regard, it requested MONUC to make a first assessment of the number of members of Rwandan armed groups in the territory, based on which the Council would examine whether further support should be given to MONUC in the execution of that task.
Further to the statement, the Council took note of the reinforcement of the MONUC presence in Kisangani and reiterated its demand that the city be demilitarized. It also stressed the importance of the full reopening of the Congo River and expressed its concern at the persistent human rights violations, in particular, in the east of the country.
The meeting convened at 1:10 p.m. and adjourned at 1:25 p.m.
The full text of the presidential statement to be issued as S/PRST/2002/5, reads as follows:
"The Security Council welcomes the 10th report of the Secretary General on MONUC and expresses its intention to consider its recommendations. The Security Council calls on all the parties to the conflict to display their political will in order to achieve a peaceful settlement and reconciliation. The Security Council urges all the parties to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement (S/1998/815) to fulfil all their commitments under the agreement and under the relevant resolutions of the Council.
"The Security Council stresses the importance of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, which is an essential element to achieve lasting peace. It reiterates its strong support for the Facilitator and his team. It calls on all Congolese parties to participate in this process, and to do so in a constructive spirit.
"The Security Council reiterates its call for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It also stresses that the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration process of the armed groups mentioned in Annex A, Chapter 9.1, of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement is another key element for the settlement of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in this regard:
"-- reiterates its support for MONUC, which is deploying in the east of the country in order to facilitate this process.
"-- calls on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to fulfil its commitments regarding the repatriation of the ex-combatants in Kamina.
"-- taking note of the request expressed by President Kabila to the Security Council, requests MONUC to make a first assessment of the number of members of the Rwandan armed groups (ex-FAR and Interahamwe) in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to report to the Council by the end of March. Based on this assessment, the Council will examine whether any further support should be given to MONUC in the execution of this task.
"-- recalls that all the parties have a major responsibility to contribute to the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration process and that the Joint Military Commission has a role in this respect, in cooperation with MONUC.
"The Security Council takes note of the reinforcement of the MONUC presence in Kisangani and reiterates its demand that the city be demilitarized, in accordance with its relevant resolutions. In this regard, it also stresses the importance of the full reopening of the Congo River, including to commercial traffic, and calls on all parties to cooperate in this regard.
"The Security Council expresses its concern at the persistent human rights violations, in particular in the east of the country, and calls on all parties to put an end to these violations."
When the Council met, it had before it the tenth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) (document S/2002/169), in which the Secretary-General recommends that the Council consider increasing the authorized military strength of the Mission by 850 personnel to deal with the considerable challenges facing MONUC as it implements the third phase of its deployment.
The report is submitted in accordance with the Council's decision of 14 June 2001 to extend the mandate of MONUC until 15 June 2002 and to review progress at least every four months. The Secretary-General notes that already the difficulties of phase III -- during which MONUC aims, among other things, to help facilitate the total withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic and the disarmament and demobilization of the armed groups -- have become apparent.
For example, he says, MONUC has faced serious obstruction and delays in deploying to Kisangani and Kindu, as well as in its efforts to repatriate a group of combatants from Kamina. Further, no major change has been observed in the positions of the countries with foreign forces stationed in the Democratic Republic, and Uganda has even announced its intention to send troops back into the north-eastern part of the country. The Secretary-General, therefore, renews his call for all foreign countries with troops in the Democratic Republic to withdraw them.
Little progress has been made in the demilitarization of Kisangani, the Secretary-General notes. As has been made clear to the Rassemblement Congolais pour la democratie-Goma (RCD), the assistance that MONUC is mandated to provide with respect to the modalities of demilitarization, including the formation and training of a police force, is in no way linked to and in no way attenuates the direct obligation to comply promptly and unconditionally with Council resolutions demanding the town's demilitarization. The town must be demilitarized, the report states.
To facilitate this necessity, the Secretary-General has amended the concept of operations for phase III to reflect support that could be provided for the demilitarization of Kisangani. This adjustment, which includes the proposal that additional armed military personnel be deployed to key locations in the town to assist in confidence-building and hostilities prevention, requires considerable resources to be placed at the Mission's disposal. The magnitude of the crisis facing the Democratic Republic deserves an adequate response from the international community, the Secretary-General stresses. The civilian units of MONUC will all assume increasingly important roles as the centre of gravity of the Mission moves eastwards, and must be staffed and supported accordingly. In addition to increasing MONUC troop strength, the Secretary-General endorses an increased civilian police strength of 85 officers.
The report states that the establishment of a logistics base in the east of the country would facilitate future Mission deployments, particularly important in the light of the recent events in Goma, where volcanic eruptions caused serious damage and displacement. The MONUC moved quickly and effectively, in close cooperation with the specialized agencies, to aid the people of Goma following the eruptions, the Secretary-General notes. He suggests that the Mission continue to place some of its assets at the temporary disposal of relief efforts.
As the coming phase of MONUC activities will require still higher levels of cooperation, the Secretary-General calls on the Lusaka signatories to demonstrate anew their commitment to carrying out the agreement they have signed and to display the necessary seriousness of purpose and resolve. They should avail themselves of the opportunity presented by MONUC's presence to reach a viable solution to the conflict. The RCD and the Government of Rwanda have a particular responsibility in this respect, since it is in the territory that they now control that phase III disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration operations will be conducted. Both assured the Secretary-General during his visit to the region in September 2001, he notes, that they would support the Mission's deployment and operations.
He states that he expects no less from the Government of the Democratic Republic. The failure so far to repatriate the Rwandan combatants from Kamina is a source of concern, and the Secretary-General calls on the Government to use all its influence to promote the early return of all Rwandan combatants now on its territory. To that end, the Governments of the Democratic Republic and of Rwanda are strongly urged to consider entering into an agreement to create a legal and political framework to facilitate this objective.
The report states that the overall humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic continues to be characterized by grievous human rights violations, chronic food insecurity, population displacement, and outbreaks of infectious disease. Poor security conditions significantly limit the access of humanitarian agencies, and the humanitarian situation in the east of the country remains particularly precarious.
The inter-Congolese dialogue is scheduled to resume at the end of February, the report states. The Secretary-General commends the neutral facilitator, Sir Ketumile Masire, for his tireless efforts and encourages donors to continue to fund his operations. He calls on the Congolese parties to work with the facilitator and with each other towards the goals of the dialogue and the restoration of Congolese territorial integrity and national unity. The MONUC and the United Nations will continue to lend their support.
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