1 . The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 39 of Security Council resolution 2147 (2014). It covers major developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since my report of 30 June 2014 (S/2014/450), including with regard to the implementation of national commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region and progress made by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in implementing its mandate. It also provides an update on the reconfiguration of MONUSCO and the transfer of tasks to the United Nations country team.
II. Major developments Political developments
2 . The formation of a new Government of “national cohesion” announced by President Joseph Kabila in October 2013 did not take place during the reporting period. The extraordinary session of Parliament, which was expected to focus on the adoption of three laws on the organization of local, provincial and general elections and one law modifying article 70 of the Constitution in order to change the voting system for provincial elections, also was not held. This fuelled speculation about further revisions of the Constitution in the future, aimed at circumventing presidential term limits.
3 . The Independence Day (30 June) commemorations were dominated by President Kabila’s speech, in which he paid tribute to the patriotism and valour of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Forces armée s de la République démocratique du Congo — FARDC) in their victory over the rebels of the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23). Independence Day was preceded by statements from several opposition parties and coalitions, in which they rejected the electoral calendar published in May and opposed any constitutional amendments or changes to presidential term limits. Several opposition parties called for the restructuring of the Commission électorale nationale indépendante and the prosecution of its President. They also threatened to withdraw their representatives from the Commission.
4 . The debate over constitutional changes continued to widen. Three weeks after the Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement reiterating its opposition to any revision of the Constitution, the Archdiocese of Kinshasa organized a conference in mid-July on the theme “Is now the appropriate time to amend the Constitution?”. Among the featured speakers was one of President Kabila’s advisers, who argued that the 2005 Constitution was not adapted to the post-transitional context and that a new Constitution was needed as the country transformed into an emerging regional power.
5 . In July and August, the Secretary-General of the presidential majority, Aubin Minaku, and the President of the Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la démocratie, Evariste Boshab, among other influential political leaders, echoed views about the need to extensively revise the Constitution in order to adapt it to evolving realities. Some called for such amendments to be adopted by referendum and began campaigning for public support.
6 . However, disagreements appeared to surface within the presidential majority, with the Mouvement social pour le renouveau publicly expressing concern about any modification of article 220 of the Constitution, which prohibits the revision of provisions relating to presidential term limits and other fundamental principles.
7 . On 4 August, some of the main parliamentary opposition parties, including the Union pour la nation congolaise and the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social, organized a rally in Kinshasa in opposition to any constitutional change that would end presidential term limits. National deputy and Union pour la nation congolaise General Secretary Jean-Bertrand Ewanga was arrested on 5 August on charges of slandering the Head of State and inciting ethnic hatred in relation to his statements at the rally, raising concern about respect for fundamental freedoms and political space for the opposition. On 11 September, the Supreme Court sentenced Mr. Ewanga to one year in prison for contempt of the President, the Parliament and members of the Government.
8 . On 3 September, approximately 30 civil society organizations issued a statement for consideration by the Parliament, in which they opposed any amendment to the Constitution that would compromise progress in consolidating democracy and the rule of law.
9 . On 15 September, in Kinshasa, the Parliament reconvened in an ordinary session, which was boycotted by members of Parliament from the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social and the Union pour la nation congolaise in protest against the imprisonment of Mr. Ewanga. At the opening ceremony, National Assembly Speaker Aubin Minaku stated that the Assembly would have to take a decision on changing the voting system from direct to indirect suffrage for provincial elections, which implies a constitutional modification. He indicated that the modification of other articles, including article 220, should be decided by referendum. Senate President Kengo Wa Dondo declared his opposition to any attempt to change article 220, which limits presidential terms, and called upon national stakeholders not to support any such amendment, since it could jeopardize national cohesion and peace.