Mr. Haile Menkerios, UN Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary General (DSRSG) in the DRC for the last two years, will leave his position this week. He explained to us his previous involvement in Congolese politics, which goes back to the 1990's, as well as the implications of the return of Mr. Bemba in July and the challenges now facing the DRC government.
How did your experience as senior advisor to the special envoy for the Secretary General in the Inter Congolese Dialogue process enhance your understanding and knowledge of the DRC political process?
My participation in the Inter Congolese Dialogue was not the beginning of my involvement in the Congolese political process. I was the Eritrean Special envoy to the Great Lakes Region from 1996 to 1997, and during that period I was very actively engaged in the process of change that was going on in the Congo. In fact I did work for a short period as a political advisor for Laurent Desiree Kabila.
Therefore I had an adequate understanding of the dynamics of what was going on in the Congo. During my work in the Inter Congolese Dialogue process, I was in constant discussions with all the different parties.
It was not only negotiations in Sun city, but also I attended a lot of other conferences elsewhere. It involved a lot of shuttle diplomacy, to try bridge the gap between the different parties. This gave me a better understanding of the interests and dreams of the different groups, and to what extent it was possible, or difficult, to bring them closer.
I had some understanding of Congolese politics before this, but during that period we also had to try to understand the situation of each party and their positions and therefore it helped deepens my knowledge and understanding.
And because of my previous experience in this regard, the Secretary General then asked me to work here as Deputy Special Representative in the DRC.
Mr. Bemba is due to return to the DRC in July, and a rise in tension in the DRC remains a possibility. Does MONUC have a specific political plan in relation to this?
We do not expect that the return of Mr. Bemba is going to create another security threat. It's a totally different situation now. I think that kind of confrontation is behind us, because the means does not exist. If any disturbance should occur, it would not be major and the security forces of the country can handle it, and we would be ready to assist if necessary.
What are the most important priorities and challenges facing the DRC government?
Security sector reform is obviously a priority. Furthermore, the provision of social services to the population is necessary. Peace and stability will bring higher expectations for the delivery of social services such as education, health, the possibility for trade, justice, at the local level.
These are now the biggest challenges for the government, the provision of these services that are justifiably expected by the people.