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 19 June to 17 September 2021. It describes 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 21 June 2021 (S/2021/587). The report contains an overview of political developments and of the Mission’s pursuit of a comprehensive approach to the protection of civilians and the stabilization and strengthening of State institutions and key governance and security reforms. Additionally, it highlights the development with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo of a transition plan on the basis of the joint strategy on the progressive and phased drawdown of MONUSCO (S/2020/1041, annex), as requested by the Council in its resolution 2556 (2020). The transition plan is contained in the annex to the present report.
II. Political developments
2. Tensions mounted between political and civil society actors regarding the electoral reforms ahead of the elections foreseen in 2023, while the Government of the Union sacrée de la nation (USN) coalition completed its first 100 d ays.
3. On 3 July, President Félix Tshisekedi promulgated the law reforming the Commission électorale nationale indépendante (CENI). Thereafter, the National Assembly issued a timeline for the designation process of the CENI bureau and plenary members. On 4 August, Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde encouraged relevant stakeholders to designate CENI members while reconfirming that a foreseen census would not be a precondition for the holding of elections. However, the Plateforme des confessions religieuses, which submits the name of the proposed candidate for CENI President to the National Assembly, did not reach a consensus on a candidate by 17 August as envisaged in the timeline, thereby delaying the process. As a result, hostile protests by unidentified youth took place on 1 August at the residence of the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, prompting widespread condemnation across the political and social spectrum. Additionally, members of the opposition and the majority conditioned the designation of candidates on an inclusive consensus on electoral reforms, while several civil society organizations called for the depoliticization of CENI.
4. On 8 July, deputy Cerveau Pitshou Nsingi, of USN, submitted to the National Assembly bureau a draft law to amend and supplement the 2004 law on nationality and particularly to limit key State positions to citizens born to two Congolese parents. Some political and civil society actors interpreted the draft law as a threat to national cohesion and stability and as an attempt to exclude some political figures from the 2023 presidential poll. Likewise, recent allegations against Senator Augustin Matata Ponyo (Independent) of mismanagement of public funds while he was Prime Minister, from 2012 to 2016, were also interpreted by some political actors as a means to neutralize a potential presidential candidate.
5. In the context of her good offices, the Special Representative of the Secretary - General continued her engagement with the President, the members of the Government, Parliament, political leaders, and civil society actors. That engagement primarily centred around the issue of credible, transparent, inclusive, peaceful and gender-balanced political and electoral processes leading up to the 2023 elections, supporting the Government in addressing insecurity against the backdrop of the state of siege in Ituri and North Kivu provinces and addressing hate speech.
6. On 4 August, Prime Minister Lukonde took stock of the first 100 days of his Government. He commended the successes achieved on the security front since the entry into force of the state of siege on 6 May. Meanwhile, Members of Parliament noted that insecurity continued despite the fifth extension of the state of siege authorized by the National Assembly and Senate on 3 and 4 August, respectively, and urged the Government to provide an assessment of the state of siege’s effectiveness.
A seventh extension was authorized by the National Assembly on 30 August and by the Senate on 1 September. On 14 September, the Defence and Security Standing Committee of the National Assembly concluded hearings undertaken to assess of the state of siege.
7. On 15 July, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund approved the $1.5 billion programme under the extended credit facility arrangement to support structural reforms to strengthen revenue mobilization, reinforce monetary policy and boost inclusive growth. The Executive Board granted, on 2 August, an additional $1.5 billion from a general allocation of special drawing rights to supplement the country’s foreign exchange reserves and to support pandemic recovery.
8. Cooperation with neighbouring countries has progressed positively. The fourth meeting of the heads of intelligence and security services of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania took place on 6 July in Bujumbura, Burundi. The meeting, attended by the Special Representative, resulted in the adoption of the Contact and Coordination Group’s twoyear action plan and the decision to establish a Centre de coordination conjointe des opérations to address the threat of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
9. President Tshisekedi and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda undertook reciprocal visits to Gisenyi and Goma on 25 and 26 June, respectively. They assessed the impact of the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo on 22 May, including on women and girls consequently at increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence. They also signed three bilateral agreements on promoting and protecting investments, income taxes and tax evasion, and the gold sector. On 13 July, President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi met with President Tshisekedi in Kinshasa and discussed the security situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The visit resulted in the resumption of the joint commission between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From 31 August to 2 September, the Commission met in Kinshasa and agreed to strengthen cooperation to neutralize armed groups and reinforce border security, including by demarcating borders. Bilateral relations with Uganda also continued to improve during the reporting period, in particular following President Tshisekedi’s meeting with President Yoweri Museveni on 16 June in Kasindi and Mpondwe, border towns of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
10. From 17 to 18 August, President Tshisekedi attended the forty-first Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Lilongwe. President Tshisekedi was elected to assume the SADC chairpersonship for 2022–2023.