Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2017/565)
1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 52 of Security Council resolution 2348 (2017). It covers major developments that have occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since my report of 10 March 2017 (S/2017/206). The report describes progress in the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and provides an overview of political developments since my report on the implementation of the political agreement of 31 December 2016 in that country (S/2017/435) of 17 May.
II. Major developments
A. Political situation
2. During the reporting period, the implementation of the political agreement of 31 December 2016 was slow, incomplete and marked persistently by disagreements between the Rassemblement des forces politiques et sociales de la République démocratique du Congo acquises au changement, an opposition platform, and the Majorité présidentielle over whether developments were in line with the letter and spirit of the agreement.
3. On 16 May 2017, five months after the signing of the agreement and five weeks after the appointment of a new Prime Minister, a 59-member transitional Government was sworn in before the National Assembly. This followed the signing, in late April, of the Arrangements particuliers for the implementation of the agreement by most political actors, with the exception of the Rassemblement. In his address at the swearing-in ceremony, the Prime Minister, Bruno Tshibala, stated that his Government would focus on organizing credible, free, transparent and peaceful elections by the end of the year, as envisaged under the Agreement; addressing the economic crisis; improving socioeconomic conditions; and restoring peace across the country. He also announced that his Government would consider options for reducing the cost of elections, possibly by modifying voting modalities.
4. The Rassemblement denounced the formation and inauguration of the new Government as constituting an infringement of the agreement. The Secretary-General of the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social (UDPS), Jean-Marc Kabund-a-Kabund, and the President of the Rassemblement, Félix Tshisekedi, who have long insisted that the agreement stipulates that the new Prime Minister should have been a member of the Rassemblement, called upon all Congolese to remain mobilized in support of the full implementation of the accord.
5. On 20 May, at an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, noting that the swift organization of elections is the first objective of the Government, instructed the new cabinet to provide support to the Independent National Electoral Commission. He stressed the need to consolidate peace and security throughout the country as a prerequisite for credible elections. Mr. Kabila also urged the Government to work towards improving the socioeconomic conditions of the Congolese people, and to act swiftly in regard to presenting a draft 2017 budget for adoption by the parliament.
6. By mid-June, the conseil national de suivi de l’accord, an oversight mechanism for the implementation of the agreement, had yet to be established. No significant progress was noted in the implementation of the confidence-building measures foreseen in the agreement. Meanwhile, plans to repatriate and bury the remains of Étienne Tshisekedi, the former leader of UDPS who had passed away on 1 February, remained at an impasse, as disagreement persisted between the party and the Government on various modalities, fuelling tense stand-offs between security services and supporters of UDPS at the headquarters of the party in Kinshasa during the month of April.
7. On 30 April, the voter registration process was completed in 13 provinces and launched in 10 others; and on 28 May, the process was launched in Kinshasa. In the two remaining provinces, Kasaï and Kasaï Central, registration has not yet commenced owing to insecurity. Registration of the members of the Congolese diaspora has also not yet commenced. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, as of 21 June, over 28 million potential voters had been registered, representing 69.3 per cent of the estimated electorate nationwide, in which the proportion of women is 48 per cent.
8. While the Independent National Electoral Commission maintains 31 July as the official deadline for the completion of the voter registration process, a measure of uncertainty persists, including as a result of the insecurity in Kasaï and Kasaï Central provinces. Also, the Government faces an increasingly difficult budgetary situation. This affects its ability to fund the electoral process, which the Commission estimates would cost $1.3 billion. The multi-partner basket support fund for the Projet d’appui au cycle électoral au Congo, which is managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), remains funded at the level of only 6 per cent of the required amount of $123.3 million, owing partly to donor concerns regarding uncertainties surrounding the political transition.