3 July 2006
Security Council Extends Increase in Force Strength of UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo until 30 September
Resolution 1693 (2006) Adopted Unanimously; Objective Is Free, Fair, Peaceful Election Process
NEW YORK, 30 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this morning, reiterating its concern regarding the continuation of hostilities by militias and foreign armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and at the threat they posed to the holding of elections, decided to extend until 30 September the increase in the military and civilian police strength of the United Nations mission there authorized in resolutions 1621 and 1635.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1693 (2006), the Council underlined the temporary character of that increase, and requested the Secretary-General to take the necessary steps with a view to downsizing or repatriating this additional strength by 30 September, as long as their presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would no longer be vital to the successful conduct of the electoral process.
The Council once again called on the transitional institutions and on all Congolese parties to ensure that free, fair and peaceful elections take place, that the timetable for polls developed by the Independent Electoral Commission is scrupulously respected, and that security forces exercise restraint and remain impartial while providing security to the electoral process, and to respect the rights of every candidate to conduct a campaign.
The historic elections which are scheduled to be held in the country in the coming months constitute the largest and most challenging electoral process ever conducted with United Nations support. The Congolese electorate of 25.5 million voters will be called on, for the first time in 45 years, to cast their vote in some 50,000 polling stations for some 33 presidential, over 9,000 national legislative and over 10,000 provincial assembly candidates.
The meeting began at 10:47 a.m. and ended at 10:50 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1693 (2006) reads, as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its resolutions and the statements by its President concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular resolutions 1565 of 1 October 2004, 1592 of 30 March 2005, 1596 of 18 April 2005, 1621 of 6 September 2005, 1628 of 30 September 2005, 1635 of 28 October 2005 and 1671 of 25 April 2006,
"Reaffirming its commitment to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its support for the process of the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement on the Transition, signed in Pretoria on 17 December 2002,
"Underlining the importance of elections as the foundation for the longer term restoration of peace and stability, national reconciliation and establishment of the rule of law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
"Taking note of the fact that the elections of members of the National Assembly and the first round of the election of the President of the Republic are scheduled for 30 July 2006,
"Paying tribute to the donor community for the assistance they provide to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular to the electoral process, and encouraging them to maintain it,
"Recalling the importance of the security sector reform for the long-term stabilization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the contribution brought by the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the EUSEC Mission and other international partners in this field,
"Reiterating its serious concern regarding the continuation of hostilities by militias and foreign armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and at the threat they pose to the holding of elections,
"Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General dated 13 June 2006 (S/2006/390), and of its recommendations,
"Noting that the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,
"Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
"1. Decides to extend until 30 September 2006 the increase in the military and civilian police strength of MONUC authorized by resolutions 1621 and 1635;
"2. Underlines the temporary character of the increase referred to in the previous paragraph, and requests the Secretary-General to take the necessary steps with a view to downsizing or repatriating this additional strength by 30 September 2006, as long as their presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would no longer be vital to the successful conduct of the electoral process;
"3. Calls once again on the Transitional institutions and on all Congolese parties to ensure that free, fair and peaceful elections take place, that the timetable for polls developed by the Independent Electoral Commission is scrupulously respected and that security forces exercise restraint and remain impartial while providing security to the electoral process, and to respect the rights of every candidate to conduct a campaign;
"4. Calls on all Congolese parties to refrain from incitement to hatred and violence;
"5. Recalls that MONUC has the mandate, as set out in paragraph 7 of resolution 1565, within its capacity and without prejudice to carrying out tasks stipulated in paragraphs 4 and 5 of resolution 1565, inter alia, to provide assistance to the transitional government and authorities in order to contribute to their efforts, including those carried out with the support of EUSEC, with a view to take forward the security sector reform;
"6. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
The Security Council had before it the twenty-first report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) (document S/2006/390), which states that the historic elections which are scheduled to be held in the country in the coming months constitute the largest and most challenging electoral process ever conducted with United Nations support. The Congolese electorate of 25.5 million voters will be called on, for the first time in 45 years, to cast their vote in some 50,000 polling stations for some 33 presidential, over 9,000 national legislative and over 10,000 provincial assembly candidates.
By all standards, logistical challenges and the cost of the elections will be considerable, states the report. It is hoped that this unprecedented investment by the Congolese people and the international community will help consolidate lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through a process of national reconciliation, further democratization and the continued implementation of fundamental reforms and the transitional agenda. The Secretary-General also trusts that the lessons learned in organizing and conducting the elections will be considered carefully to allow for the organization of future national polls in the most efficient way.
The Secretary-General is grateful to the international community for its considerable political, financial, technical and logistical support of the electoral process. He notes, in particular, the key role played by the European Union in mobilizing and providing funding for the elections, and helping to advance the electoral agenda through its sustained high-level political engagement. He also thanks other key donors, including South Africa, which is assisting the Independent Electoral Commission with critically needed financing, printing and transporting of some 78 million ballot papers to 14 designated sites. This generous donor assistance is a welcome supplement to the considerable logistical and technical support being provided by MONUC.
While it will be difficult, given the logistical challenges, to ensure that the elections are absolutely perfect, it will be important for the credibility of the process that the Independent Electoral Commission remains impartial and fully transparent in managing the elections. In this connection, the Secretary-General is concerned by recent reports regarding limitations on civil liberties, the widespread misuse of public funds, endemic corruption, and the arbitrary detention of political party members.
He is also concerned by reports of increasing intimidation of the media, which threatens to undermine the transparency of the elections. Freedom of the press is a central tenet of democracy that needs to be upheld especially during the electoral period. It is the right of both national and international members of the press to be able to report without fear. Any attempt to manipulate the process, including through restrictions on the freedom of the national and international press, the intimidation of voters and arbitrary arrests, cannot be tolerated and should be strongly condemned.
In addition, the Secretary-General also strongly encourages the Congolese political leaders to approach the elections in a spirit of reconciliation and renewal. The elections and their outcome should provide an opportunity to continue the process of national dialogue, consolidation of peace and progress towards the long-term unity and stability of the country.
He urges the Congolese authorities, in particular the national police, who have the special mandate to secure the polls, to continue taking the necessary security measures to prevent and deter possible violence. The elections must take place in an atmosphere which is calm and free of any intimidation or interference. Political parties and candidates should refrain from using rhetoric that would incite ethnic tensions. Moreover, the political campaign should be conducted in strict compliance with the code of conduct; political parties and independent candidates should be encouraged to base their campaign on the programmes and platforms which will best serve the long-term interest of the Congolese population.
While the primary responsibility for securing the elections remains with the Congolese authorities, MONUC and its partners will continue to support the efforts of the Government. In this connection, the Secretary-General strongly welcomes the decision of the European Union to assist the United Nations in securing the elections by making available a standby force to address, if need be, specific security situations. The availability at short notice of the main body of the European Union standby force, as well as the presence of its advance elements in Kinshasa, will play an important role in reassuring the Congolese electorate and deterring potential spoilers. The Secretary-General is also grateful for the Council's authorization to transfer from the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) to MONUC a battalion, a level II hospital and up to 50 military observers.
Despite some progress, the political and security situation in Ituri, the Kivus and Katanga remains tenuous. Militia fighting continues to affect negatively the lives of civilians. The surrender of Mayi-Mayi commander Gédéon and his forces in Mitwaba is a welcome development. The Secretary-General is also encouraged by the steps taken to bring before the International Criminal Court one of the notorious leaders of the Ituri armed groups. At the same time, the judicial authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are expected to make additional efforts to put an end to impunity, including within the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).
The report states that the FARDC has engaged in widespread, serious violations of human rights. This is partly due to the fact that the integration of the national army has been somewhat ineffective, particularly given the lack of political will, the mismanagement and diversion of funds earmarked for salary payments, and inadequate training and logistical support. The Secretary-General urges the Congolese authorities and bilateral donors, including the European Union and others, to accelerate the establishment of a reformed army and police force and to ensure that those responsible for human rights violations are swiftly brought to trial by an independent and credible justice system.
The humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains severe, with a large number of internally displaced persons and other vulnerable populations. The United Nations and its partners have invested considerable effort and resources in helping to mitigate the worst aspects of the humanitarian crisis. The 2006 action plan launched on 13 February in Brussels and Kinshasa presents a clear and realistic framework to address the continuing humanitarian issues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, it remains a source of concern that donors have pledged only 14 per cent of the $682 million needed. The action plan, which is aimed at building on the gains in the security environment achieved by MONUC, will be critical in addressing the legacy of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Secretary-General strongly appeals to the Congolese authorities as well as the donor community to urgently provide the required assistance to address the humanitarian crisis in the country.
The recent progress made in improving bilateral relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda is encouraging. Rwanda's intention to restore full diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo after the elections is a step in the right direction. At the same time, the misunderstandings and tensions that persist between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, especially those concerning the security situation on their common border, should be addressed as matter of priority.
The forthcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will represent a major milestone, states the report. However, some tasks envisaged under the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement will not have been completed by the time of the polls. The Secretary-General urges all Congolese stakeholders to approach the post-electoral period in a spirit of reconciliation and national consensus, ensuring the participation of all of the country's political forces in the new political dispensation. The new Government should also make every effort to ensure that urgent needs of the population for security and economic development are met.
The Secretary-General intends to provide the Council with his proposals for the post-electoral role of MONUC, which will include critical areas such as the extension of State authority, reform of the security sector, protection and promotion of human rights, protection of civilians and the provision of overall security. These proposals will be outlined in his report to the Council after the possible second round of the presidential elections, which may take place in October 2006.
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