Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2018/16)
- The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 52 of Security Council resolution 2348 (2017). It covers major developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since the issuance of my previous report, of 2 October (S/2017/824). 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); provides an overview of political developments following my report of 17 November on the implementation of the Comprehensive and Inclusive Political Agreement of 31 December 2016 (see S/2017/963); and provides a report on the performance of MONUSCO uniformed personnel.
II. Major developments
A. Political situation
Deep divisions among political and civil society actors have continued to characterize the political climate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the reporting period. On 5 November, the Independent National Electoral Commission published an electoral calendar officially postponing the presidential and legislative elections scheduled to take place by December 2017, in accordance with the agreement of 31 December 2016, until 23 December 2018. This prompted renewed calls for demonstrations against the President, Joseph Kabila, and the Government by most opposition leaders and several civil society organizations. On 15 and 30 November and 19 December, however, these calls were only marginally followed in urban centres across the country, as authorities continued to impose a ban on public demonstrations and to deploy the security forces prior to public protests. On 31 December, national security forces violently dispersed demonstrations called for by the Secular Coordination Committee in Kinshasa and other cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, resulting in at least 5 deaths, 46 people wounded and over 140 arrests. The call of the Committee for protests to demand the full implementation of the agreement of 31 December 2016, including confidence-building measures, to reject the electoral calendar and to urge President Kabila not to run for office o n 23 December 2018 was supported by the Catholic Church and opposition groups. In contrast, both the President’s Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la démocratie and the Government appears determined to proceed with the implementation of the electoral calendar.
On 7 November, President Kabila led a meeting of the leadership of his party to discuss its approach and strategy for the upcoming elections. On 14 November, the Government swiftly endorsed two draft bills critical for the holding of elections. The first is the 2018 finance bill, subsequently adopted by parliament on 14 December, which allocates a total of $619 million for the organization of elections, of which $532 million is to be disbursed to the Independent National Electoral Commission. The second is the electoral law, adopted by parliament on 15 December, despite the protests of the opposition and a few members of parliament belonging to the ruling majority, who lamented that the bill would reduce the likelihood of small politica l parties and independent candidates gaining seats in the future legislative elections. Women’s organizations also protested that the electoral bill did not improve women’s chances of being elected in parliament, including by rejecting a proposal to ensure that women hold 30 per cent of the seats at the end of the upcoming legislative elections; a percentage which remains below the full parity enshrined in the Constitution. On 24 December, President Kabila signed both bills.
On a related note, and in an apparent effort to help improve the pre-electoral climate, on 21 November, the National Council for Monitoring the Agreement and the Electoral Process announced that it was working towards the release of additional political prisoners. The Council is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the agreement of 31 December 2016 and is led by Joseph Olenghankoy, an opposition figure. The body stated that it would follow up on the situation of five political figures, who have become targets of judicial proceedings, political prisoners or under the heavy surveillance of the security services. The Council also called on the Government to respect people’s right to hold protests and their freedom of movement, in compliance with the Constitution. Lastly, the Council called on all political actors to preserve peace during the pre-electoral period.