The United Nations peacekeeping mission has deplored "gangsterism" in the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as the presence of illicit arms supplies in the troubled eastern region of the Great Lakes country, both of which could have a negative impact on the electoral process.
"MONUC is concerned by increasing acts of gangsterism in Kinshasa and understands the population's apprehension," the acting deputy spokesperson for the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), Rachel Eklou Assogbavi, told journalists yesterday.
Asked whether MONUC would toughen its stance against insecurity in Kinshasa, the military spokesman Colonel Thierry Provendier said: "Criminal activities are legally-related matters. The Transitional Government is responsible for law enforcement and security. MONUC calls on the authorities and the Interior Minister, in particular, to meet the population's security expectations, so that voter registration can start peacefully."
With regard to the eastern Ituri province, Col. Provendier said that despite the UN-imposed arms embargo, "supply routes are countless. MONUC has stepped up its border patrols and the pressure maintained thus far makes illegal weapons supplies to DRC difficult and risky."
"The effectiveness of this embargo relies on the cooperation of the nine States bordering the DRC," however, he noted.
On the 11 June attack on the MONUC patrol operating on Lake Albert, which is a natural border between DRC and Uganda, he said, "MONUC operations deter the few hard-liner militia who have so far failed to realize that disarming and returning to a civilian life is their only viable option."
Ms. Eklou Assogbavi added, "MONUC warns militiamen who have not yet disarmed and reiterates that, with the exception of Bunia, all other transit sites will be closed by June 25. There will be no delay."
As of June 14, "14,827 persons, including 4,204 children, had handed over their weapons," she said.
Referring to the 16 June Day of the African Child, MONUC Child Protection's Daniela Baro said the ongoing integration of armed forces had led to the release by militias of 7,908 children, including 1,082 girls, but the recruitment of child soldiers continued in Ituri, even though the recruiters were subject to investigation and prosecution.