- The present report, submitted pursuant to paragraph 51 of Security Council resolution 2502 (2019), covers major developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 17 March 2020 to 16 June 2020. It covers progress made 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 18 March 2020 (S/2020/214); provides an overview of political developments, including progress towards the strengthening of State institutions and key governance and security reforms; and 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. The report also provides information on progress made towards the progressive transfer of tasks to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations country team and other relevant stakeholders, and on the implementation of the measures taken to improve the Mission’s performance. In addition, the report covers the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the delivery of the tasks mandated in Security Council resolution 2502 (2019).
II. Political developments
The reporting period was marked by the dynamics of the coalition between the Cap pour le changement and the Front commun pour le Congo, against the backdrop of efforts to contain the impact of COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the detention of the Chief of Staff of the President on embezzlement charges. Diplomatic activities were also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with major regional meetings, such as the tenth high-level meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism, postponed.
On 24 March, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the President, Félix Tshisekedi, declared a public health state of emergency, which was subsequently validated by the Constitutional Court and repeatedly renewed by the National Assembly and the Senate. This was preceded by the announcement, on 18 March, of other preventive measures and the creation of a national solidarity fund to mobilize funds to address the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19. The fund is overseen by a management committee made up of 12 members, including 2 women. On 21 April, President Tshisekedi received the former President, Joseph Kabila, to discuss ongoing efforts to address the pandemic, and called for national cohesion and unity. The First Lady, Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi, voiced concerns about an increase in domestic violence due to confinement measures related to COVID-19.
Tensions within the coalition between the Cap pour le changement and the Front commun pour le Congo persisted. On 25 May, a majority of National Assembly deputies voted to remove the First Vice-President, Jean-Marc Kabund of the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social, drawing public criticism from the Union’s leadership.
The Prime Minister, Sylvestre Ilunga Ilukamba, held several meetings to discuss macroeconomic stability in the context of COVID-19, with export earnings having dropped significantly and the price of basic commodities and food supplies fluctuating in major cities. In addition, on the initiative of the President, on 18 April, an emergency food programme was set up in Kinshasa to facilitate the access of the population to affordable food. On 29 April, the central bank was instructed to take measures to stabilize the national currency. The Prime Minister also asked that measures be taken to keep public expenditure within the limits of the revenues generated by the Government.
The Chief of Staff, Vital Kamerhe, leader of the Union pour la nation congolaise, was detained on 8 April following investigations into alleged financial impropriety in the management of the President’s 100-day programme. He was subsequently charged with the embezzlement of about $51.2 million, which he denies. A majority of the 16 National Assembly deputies from the Union pour la nation congolaise released a statement in which they deplored what they called the arbitrary arrest and detention of their party leader. Some civil society organizations welcomed his arrest as a milestone in the fight against corruption. On 26 May, the President of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Kinshasa, who was presiding over the trial passed away. The authorities launched an investigation to clarify the causes of death.
In Haut-Katanga and Lualaba Provinces, following the latest escape of Gédéon Kyungu Mutanga from his house arrest in Lubumbashi on 28 March, security forces killed 43 members of his Mai-Mai Kata Katanga militia. While the situation calmed down in the following days, Gédéon Kyungu Mutanga, who has been previously sentenced for crimes against humanity, remains at large.
Since mid-March, a long-standing border dispute between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia has flared up, with reports of a build-up of troops from both nations around Moba territory, Tanganyika Province, and the killing of several Congolese soldiers in sporadic clashes with Zambian soldiers. The two States have reiterated their willingness to find a solution to the tensions, through diplomacy. Mr. Tshisekedi and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Zambia, Joseph Malanji, met on 25 March in Kinshasa. Both Governments later called on the Southern African Development Community to help to mediate the issue, with the latter agreeing to dispatch a technical team. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Congo, Jean-Claude Gakosso, visited Kinshasa, Lusaka and Harare, where he encouraged the Presidents of the two countries to resolve border disputes peacefully.
My Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo participated in several meetings with the presidential task force and the Minister of Health to discuss ways to support the national COVID-19 response. She also participated, together with key members of the diplomatic and donor communities, in a meeting convened by President Tshisekedi to discuss the domestic socioeconomic impact of the virus. With a view to finding sustainable solutions to the security situation in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu and support a peaceful political process, she pursued her good offices with national and provincial authorities, noting the importance of heeding the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire. So far, no armed group in the Democratic Republic of Congo has adhered to that call.