- The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 46 of Security Council resolution 2463 (2019) and covers major developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 28 September to 25 November 2019. 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) since my report of 27 September 2019 (S/2019/776); provides an overview of political developments; outlines progress in adjustments to the Mission’s priorities, posture and presence, as well as the pursuit of its comprehensive approach to the protection of civilians; and contains observations regarding the end of its current mandate and recommendations concerning future adjustments.
Following the inauguration of the new Government, political life has centred around parliamentary processes and the discussion about the national budget. While the governing coalition has remained stable in both the executive and the legislative branches, party politics have resurfaced in public statements. At the international level, exchanges continue on a proposed regional coalition against armed groups in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as on the potential re-engagement of the international financial institutions in the country.
On 25 October, the Government achieved a breakthrough with the adoption of the 2020 draft finance law by the Council of Ministers. Subject to the approval of the National Assembly, the proposed budget was increased from $7 billion to $10 billion. The budget covers several socioeconomic measures that are crucial to President Tshisekedi’s domestic programme, including free primary education across the country. In that context, the President launched an accelerated programme to lift 20 million citizens out of poverty over the coming five years that is focused on overcoming socioeconomic challenges in rural areas, and called for broad domestic and international support to that initiative.
In Parliament, there has been significant progress on the distribution of the remaining official positions in the upper and lower houses between the majority coalition of Cap pour le changement (CACH) and Front commun pour le Congo (FCC), and the opposition Lamuka platform. Negotiations between the political groupings were held in a constructive atmosphere. On 30 October, the National Assembly established its eight standing committees of which FCC chairs four, CACH one and Lamuka three. In the Senate, on 28 October, the plenary took note of the composition of its standing committees, nine of which will be chaired by FCC, two by CACH and two by the opposition.
Provincial governments and assemblies are fully functional and have begun tackling some of the most pressing issues facing their constituents. On 9 October, President Tshisekedi chaired a meeting of the National Security Council expanded to include the governors of five eastern provinces (Conseil national de sécurité élargi aux gouverneurs de cinq provinces de l’est – Ituri, Maniema, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika), at which the decision was taken to develop a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan to be presented together with a budget. On 29 October, the Government issued two new decrees creating an interprovincial commission for North Kivu and South Kivu tasked with supporting awareness-raising in relation to disarmament, demobilization and communal reintegration (Commission interprovinciale d’appui à la sensibilisation au désarmament, à la démobilisation et à la réinsertion communautaire). MONUSCO is providing technical support to the commission and has participated in an operational planning meeting in Goma.
Anti-corruption initiatives remain high on the agenda. At the request of President Tshisekedi, Government ministers were called upon to declare their assets to the Constitutional Court by 6 October under article 99 of the Constitution. At the same time, controversy around the disappearance of $15 million in public funds continued. The national authorities continue to conduct multiple investigations into the matter. On 21 October, the organization Comité laïc de coordination led peaceful demonstrations in multiple cities against corruption and impunity, which were supported by the political opposition.
Some members of the governing coalition have begun positioning themselves for the next general elections. During the convention of the Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la démocratie (PPRD), its permanent secretary, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, stated that the party intended to win all future polls and announced the political return of the former President, Joseph Kabila. The FCC coordinator, Néhémie Mwilanya, subsequently stated that there were no constitutional, institutional or political obstacles to Mr. Kabila seeking a new presidential term. Members of the opposition and civil society have reacted with scepticism and have given an opposing interpretation of the Constitution. Meanwhile, a senior member of the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social (UDPS) indicated that his party was working towards the re-election of Mr. Tshisekedi, without referring to the current Government coalition.
The opposition has largely been able to participate unhindered in the country’s political process. On 11 October, Jean-Pierre Bemba held a political rally in Kisangani without interference from the security services, while Moïse Katumbi made an extensive tour of the eastern part of the country that began in Goma on 26 October, after several authorizations to travel there had been denied. On 10 November, Floribert Anzuluni, coordinator of the youth citizens’ movement Filimbi, returned to Kinshasa after spending more than four years in exile. Nonetheless, there have been continued reports of violations of press freedom, as well as attacks and threats against human rights defenders and other civil society actors. Meanwhile, on the topic of the political participation of women, the Government continued to demonstrate its commitment to the constitutional quota of 30 per cent in public and governance institutions.
At the regional level, following the call President Tshisekedi had launched at the summit meeting of the Southern African Development Community to form a regional coalition to eradicate armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the armed forces (Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo, FARDC) and high-level military representatives of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania held a series of meetings in Goma on the establishment of an integrated headquarters to oversee joint military operations. MONUSCO and the United States Africa Command attended as observers. The possibility of foreign military forces operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo elicited some negative reactions, in particular among high-ranking members of FCC. According to FARDC, the regional coalition was to be aimed at exchanging information and intelligence rather than deploying foreign troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. MONUSCO has stated publicly that its mandate to protect civilians and support FARDC did not provide for support to military operations by foreign forces inside the country.
Meanwhile, the chiefs of intelligence and security services of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania met in Dar es Salaam from 4 to 6 November as a follow-up to their first meeting, held on 7 June. They called for a comprehensive strategy based on both military and non-military approaches to eradicate negative forces and prevent their remobilization. The importance of ensuring the participation of women’s, youth, religious and community leaders was emphasized, as was the need for community-based initiatives and employment projects for former combatants and young people vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups.
At the international level, President Tshisekedi has continued to advocate for investment in the Government’s domestic programme, notably in the areas of education, healthcare and infrastructure. In response, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are assessing their possible re-engagement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On 30 October, the country representative of the World Bank announced a possible $5 billion support package over the course of five years, conditional on reforms to improve public revenue, accountability and governance. The African Development Bank has also assured President Tshisekedi of its support.
My Special Representative has pursued her good offices with key national and local stakeholders. She has met with President Tshisekedi, the Minister of Interior, Security and Customary Affairs, the Minister for Decentralization, the Minister for National Defence and Former Combatants and the Chief of Staff of the President to exchange views with regard to ongoing security challenges and the ways in which the Mission can support the authorities in addressing them. In response to serious human rights and protection concerns in South Kivu, my Special Representative met with key political and civil society actors from that province, including the former Vice-Chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Norbert Basengezi Katintima, to discuss ways of resolving local conflicts. To support the conclusion of peace negotiations between the Government and the Force de résistance patriotique de l’Ituri (FRPI), my Special Representative participated in a meeting of the steering committee under the Stabilization and Reconstruction Plan for Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo held in Kinshasa on 24 October and chaired by the Prime Minister, Sylvestre Ilunga Ilukamba, about the peace negotiations. Mission personnel have also provided good offices and mediation support at the field level, as outlined below.