1. The present report, submitted pursuant to paragraph 55 of Security Council resolution 2556 (2020), covers developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 18 September to 30 November 2021. It provides a description of progress made in the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) since the previous report, of 17 September 2021 (S/2021/807). It provides an overview of political developments, as well as information on the Mission’s pursuit of a comprehensive approach to the protection of civilians, the stabilization and strengthening of State institutions and key governance and security reforms.
II. Political developments
2. Debates on the state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri, as well as the appointment of members of the Independent National Electoral Commission, dominated the reporting period.
3. On 29 September, the National Assembly adopted a report assessing the state of siege, which was prepared by the Defence and Security Standing Committee following hearings involving members of government. The report included the identification of allegations of embezzlement of funds for military operations, as well as recommendations for the development of an exit strategy for the state of siege for presentation to Parliament, for improvements in the working conditions of military and police forces and for the prosecution of members of the security forces collaborating with armed groups. The twelfth extension of the state of siege was adopted by the National Assembly and the Senate on 17 and 18 November, respectively. Deputies from North Kivu and Ituri did not participate in the National Assembly plenary sessions on 17 November or the previous one, on 1 November, in which the eleventh extension was passed, having demanded an exit strategy from the state of siege and having voiced their opposition to its continued extension.
4. On 16 October, the National Assembly endorsed the appointment of 12 members of the Independent National Electoral Commission, including Denis Kadima as President. Three posts remained vacant because the opposition refused to transmit its list of nominees to protest the endorsement of Mr. Kadima. His candidacy was supported by six of the eight religious denominations entrusted with identifying the President, but opposed by the Catholic and Protestant Churches. On 18 October, the group Agir en groupe organisé en vue des résultats pour l’avenir (AGORA) called for the consideration of women as candidates for the Commission, including as President, to achieve a peaceful and cohesive process and to fulfil the provisions of th e Constitution, the Commission’s organic law and the provisions of the Government’s programme of action on parity, fair representation and the meaningful participation of women in public affairs. On 22 October, the President, Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi, appointed the members endorsed by the National Assembly, four of whom were women, including two serving in the posts of Rapporteur and Deputy Quaestor. Mr. Tshisekedi called upon the opposition to identify nominees for the three vacant posts and announced the upcoming appointment of a public official situated in his office who would be responsible for monitoring and ensuring a smooth electoral process.
5. The Catholic and Protestant Churches, the opposition, comprising Lamuka and the Front commun pour le Congo, and part of the majority denounced the process, resulting in the nomination of the Independent National Electoral Commission members. On 24 October, they and other actors formed a coalition, called the “bloc patriotique”, with the stated goal of advocating credible, free, transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections in 2023. MONUSCO engaged with key political and civil society actors, including the newly appointed President of the Commission, to promote credible, transparent, inclusive and peaceful political processes with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, noting that the upcoming revision of the electoral law may offer an opportunity to advance the common objectives.
6. Concerns mounted over hate speech, disinformation campaigns and related tensions, in particular in Haut-Katanga and the eastern provinces. Between September and October, MONUSCO documented 29 instances of alleged hate speech in the country, which were often enabled by disinformation and took place in the context of armed conflicts and land disputes and targeting groups mainly on the basis of their ethnicity. The Mission, as well as the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations during his visit to the country in October, engaged with the Head of State, the Government and Parliament on addressing hate speech. During the Council of Ministers meeting held on 22 October, Mr. Tshisekedi instructed the Government and the National Intelligence Agency to identify and open judicial proceedings against alleged perpetrators.
7. The September ordinary sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate were focused on budgetary matters. The draft 2022 finance law indicates a balanced budget amounting to $10.2 billion, compared with $7.2 billion in 2021. During a review mission in October 2021 in the framework of the $1.5 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme under the extended credit facility arrangement, the Congolese authorities and an IMF team reached a staff-level agreement that would permit IMF management to consider approval of a disbursement of a second tranche of funding by December 2021. Despite the persistence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the economy continued to recover, supported by increased mining production and a rebound in non-extractive growth.
8. Relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours continued to evolve positively, including through the strengthening of economic and trade relations. From 27 to 29 October, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo held the tenth session of their bilateral joint commission and signed two trade agreements.
9. On 26 October, the Special Representative met the President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, in Entebbe at the invitation of Mr. Museveni to discuss the security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO mandate implementation in cooperation with the Congolese authorities and the need to strengthen the use of regional tools to promote peace and stability in the country and the region.