DR Congo + 3 more

Post-war defence integration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Originally published
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Prof Roger Kibasomba
ISS Paper 119 - December 2005 - Price: R15.00


This paper explores the defence integration process as designed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)'s peace agreement and transitional arrangements from 2003 to 2005. Various efforts undertaken by the transitional government, MONUC1 and other key players like South Africa, Angola, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (USA) are explored. On 30 June 2005 the newly integrated security forces overcame their first joint challenge: ending the transition that began with the implementation of the Pretoria agreements in June 2003. The success of the next phase is expected to lead to the establishment of a new political system based on a new constitution adopted by referendum, and a democratically elected government and parliament.

In fact, the DRC transition comprises three major phases:

- The Lusaka phase (1999-2001), consisting of the ceasefire and the deployment of MONUC;

- The Pretoria phase (2001-2003), including negotiations for powersharing and transitional governance arrangements; and

- The Kinshasa phase (2003-2005), during which the transitional government, under international supervision/guidance (by the Comité International d'Accompagnement de la Transition - CIAT), prepares and organises general elections that should lead the country to democracy and eradicate belligerence politics.

Once the transitional government had missed the deadline by failing to organise elections, the main opposition movement, under the leadership of Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, the president of the 'Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social' (UDPS), called for civil disobedience, a de facto end to the transition, and the restoration of a new government according to the resolutions of the 1990-96 National Sovereign Conference. The UDPS appeal capitalises on popular demand for democratic elections and a rapid economic recovery. The peace process and the current transitional arrangement have just survived this threat and the risk of mob violence. The deployment of the newly integrated police forces into the main cities, especially in Kinshasa (the capital), Goma (headquarters of the Rally for Democratic Change-Goma (RCD-Goma), the UDPS ally), and Mbujimayi (Tshisekedi's home town) was effective at deterring mob violence. Police interventions managed to control or quell the anticipated riots, looting, killings and escalation, without using excessive force or abusing the civilian population. The military was prepared to back up the police if any of the violent incidents escalated into something more serious.

Such an achievement constitutes a new event in the history of the DRC, known for the brutality and inefficacity of its police and military forces. The 30 June 2005 45th anniversary of the country'sindependence thus marks the beginning of the democratisation of the Congolese armed forces. The armed forces' achievement was mainly due to the upgrading of their skills, their exposure to alternative security governance and international/regional supervision, joint back-up operational support of MONUC peacekeepers, and CIAT oversight. Yet only approximately 15 per cent of the 350,000 combatants have been re-skilled and re-oriented for their appropriate professional roles.

The integration process still suffers from political interference, parallel command structures, doctrinal divergence, insufficient domestic funding, belligerence threats, continued insecurity in the eastern provinces, and delays in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) planning and implementation. The DDR programme, in turn, is behind schedule because of delays and a lack of planning for the implementation of transitional programmes.

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