Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region (S/2017/208)
- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2277 (2016), in which the Council requested me to report on the implementation of the commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region.
It covers developments since the issuance of my report of 4 October 2016 (S/2016/840) and provides information on peace and security developments in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region until 28 February 2017.
II. Major developments
A. Security situation
During the reporting period, the activities of illegal armed groups, including the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Force de résistance patriotique de l’Ituri (FRPI), Mai-Mai groups and the Lord’s Resistance Army, combined with inter-ethnic tensions in several parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have continued to threaten security and stability. In response, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) have continued operations against FDLR, ADF and FRPI, as detailed in my reports on MONUSCO of 29 December 2016 (S/2016/1130) and of 10 March 2017 (S/2017/206).
The reporting period witnessed the resumption of clashes between FARDC and elements of the former Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) in North Kivu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the first since the signing of the Nairobi Declarations in December 2013. Following reports of the disappearance on 11 November 2016 of Sultani Makenga, the military leader of the former M23, from his residence in Kampala, the Minister for Defence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Crispin Atama Tabe, requested the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to investigate reports that approximately 180 former members of M23 had left their cantonment in Bihanga, Uganda, and infiltrated Rutshuru territory in North Kivu province.
On 19 January 2017, the Government of Uganda issued a statement noting that it had arrested 101 former members of M23 headed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the statement, the Government acknowledged that some 40 combatants had escaped from the Bihanga camp earlier, reaffirmed its commitment to the Nairobi Declarations and stressed that Uganda would not support any activity intended to destabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On 27 January, two FARDC helicopters crashed in two separate incidents in Rutshuru, as FARDC reportedly battled former M23 combatants in the vicinity. On 29 January, the Rwanda Defence Force indicated that a group claiming to belong to the former M23 and reportedly fleeing combat with FARDC had crossed into Rwanda. Reports indicate that the Rwandan authorities handed the individuals over to the International Committee of the Red Cross for appropriate action under international law.
On 22 February, a spokesperson for FARDC indicated that Congolese armed forces had exchanged fire with ex-M23 combatants over a period of two days, near Rutshuru, North Kivu, killing at least 16 rebels. The following day, a spokesperson for the Uganda People’s Defence Forces announced that 44 ex-M23 combatants, who had fled to Uganda following clashes with FARDC, had been apprehended and were being held in a military camp in Kisoro, western Uganda.
The arrival of elements of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in August 2016, fleeing conflict in South Sudan, remains a matter of concern and could exacerbate tensions in fragile local communities that have long been traumatized by the activities of armed groups. Furthermore, the development could negatively affect relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. Congolese authorities have called upon MONUSCO to remove SPLM/A-IO elements on its premises from Congolese territory as soon as possible.
In a separate development, on 21 December 2016, clashes occurred between FARDC and the Burundi National Defence Force in Uvira, South Kivu province, killing at least five Burundian soldiers. The latter had reportedly crossed the border in pursuit of armed elements from the Forces nationales de libération (FNL). The incident followed efforts by the Burundi National Defence Force to neutralize Burundian rebels operating along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In Burundi, while the overall security situation has somewhat improved, violence continued with the assassination attempt on Presidential Adviser Willy Nyamitwe, on 28 November 2016, and the killing of the Minister for Environment, Emmanuel Niyonkuru, on 1 January 2017.
In Uganda, intercommunal tensions in the areas bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo escalated when security forces clashed with local militia in Kasese District, Rwenzori region, on 26 and 27 November 2016. The fighting occurred after suspected guards of the Rwenzori traditional leader, Charles Wesley Mumbere, accused by Ugandan authorities of leading a secessionist movement, reportedly attacked police and army patrols. At least 87 were reported killed and 149 arrested. Police detained Mr. Mumbere on 27 November 2016. He was subsequently granted bail on 6 February 2017.