12 November 2001


NEW YORK, 9 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council’s meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo in New York on 9 November:

Let me welcome the Political Committee of the Lusaka Agreement. I hope that this meeting with the Security Council will enable all parties to agree to move forward together in the peace process.

In my last report to the Council, I recommended that the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) be authorized to enter phase III of its deployment. For that deployment to succeed, however, the parties themselves must live up to their responsibilities. I would, therefore, like to reiterate some of my concerns.

First and foremost, the fighting in the east of the country must stop. No one should give any further support to the armed groups that continue to fight in the east, and no one should take any further aggressive action against them. At the same time, everything possible must be done to create conditions that will encourage former combatants to return voluntarily to their homes, and enable them to be safely settled.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda must agree on the process of disarmament, demobilization and repatriation of the combatants and on the creation of a coordination mechanism to facilitate the smooth transition from disarmament to reinsertion.

Kisangani must be demilitarized, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1304 (2000), and I urge the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD) to give effect without delay to the measures proposed in that connection by my Special Representative, Mr. Ngongi. Indeed, I intend to strengthen the MONUC military presence in Kisangani, in order to facilitate the demilitarization of that city.

The deployment of MONUC in Kindu is designed to create a climate of security, encouraging the armed groups to disarm. I am therefore concerned to note the decision of RCD and of the Mouvement pour la libération du Congo to create a special joint force based in Kindu, responsible for tracking and neutralizing all negative forces. Kindu must in no case be used as a base for the launching of military operations.

The withdrawal of the Namibian troops, and also many of the Ugandan troops, from Democratic Republic of the Congo territory is encouraging. I strongly urge the Angolan, Zimbabwean and Rwandan governments to speed up preparations for rapid withdrawal of their troops.

The reopening of the river Congo and its tributaries is the most important single step that can now be taken to reunite the country and stimulate economic and social life. I call on all parties to help MONUC to do its part in achieving this objective, notably by dismantling checkpoints and removing any other remaining barriers to free movement.

I urge members of the Political Committee, especially the Congolese parties, to support the neutral facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue, Sir Ketumile Masire. And I welcome the willingness of the Government of South Africa to host the dialogue, when it resumes. But, the Congolese parties should not wait for this formal resumption. I hope they will continue to meet informally for constructive discussions on the country’s future.

I would also urge the three Congolese parties to continue efforts to improve human rights within the areas they control. All those in authority have a duty to investigate alleged violations, and to take appropriate action. The international community will judge them by the actions they take, or fail to take. The Congolese parties must also facilitate access for those seeking to bring humanitarian relief to the suffering population in the areas they control.

And finally, not enough is being done to address the plight of children, particularly those who have been inducted into the various armed forces. I urge all members of the Political Committee, especially the Congolese parties, to work with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and with my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, as well as with MONUC's child protection officers, to draw up and implement agreements on demobilizing child soldiers as soon as possible.

The peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may be at a turning point. At stake is the reunification of the country after years of war. MONUC stands ready to make a decisive contribution, by deploying to the east. As the Security Council prepares to take action on my recommendations, I call on the parties to fulfil their important responsibilities, and so bring to completion the peace process they began in Lusaka more than two years ago.

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* Reissued to reflect translated text, originally delivered in French.