'DRC marked by political tensions, violence & fragility due to COVID-19' – Zerrougui (MONUSCO)

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Briefing by Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – Security Council Open VTC.

UN Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Leila Zerrougui said the situation in the country was marked by political tensions and an upswing of violence in certain parts of the east, amidst a fragile socio-economic situation with the COVID-19 pandemic introducing an additional layer of complexity and concern.

Addressing a virtual meeting of the Security Council today (25 Jun), Zerrougui said the ruling coalition composed of President Tshisekedi’s Cap pour le Changement (CACH) and former President Kabila’s Front commun pour le Congo (FCC) continues to hold together. She noted, however, that serious tensions exist within the coalition, leading to an erosion of trust between its partners. Popular support has also been challenged by the deteriorating socio-economic situation and ongoing political controversies, including the trial, conviction and sentencing of the President’s Chief of Staff Vital Kamerhe and the renewal of the Electoral Commission.

Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO):
“I therefore spare no effort in the context of my good offices, to remind interlocutors of the opportunity presented to them by the outcome of the 2018 electoral process, and that the country’s progress rests on the readiness of actors across the political spectrum to put aside partisanship in order to prevent a political crisis which could have major consequences on the stability of the country.”

The Special Representative reported that many parts of the eastern DRC continue to be torn by violence as a result of the activities of armed groups and inter-community conflicts, with the situation in parts of Ituri in particular gravely deteriorating. She said a MONUSCO convoy was ambushed in North Kivu this week leading to the killing of an Indonesian peacekeeper while the hauts plateaux of South Kivu continued to witness intercommunity conflicts.

“I condemn in the strongest terms attacks on displaced populations and the use of hate speech which incites further violence. Efforts to de-solidarize communities from these militia and preventing external actors from supporting their agendas will be vital to address the escalation of tensions in the area.”

Zerrougui said MONUSCO continues to pursue a comprehensive approach to address these issues, “which combines active troop deployments to hotspot areas; community engagement; the development of targeted protection strategies; and the provision of critical, largescale logistical support to FARDC operations.”

She added the national security forces were in need of the peacekeeping mission’s full support for the work that they do, as well as continued, significant assistance to improve their logistical, training, and operational capacities.

The Special Representative said in view of the interlinked nature of political stabilization, the improvement of the security environment and protection of civilians, along with socio-economic development, MONUSCO with the UN Country Team was placing a priority on implementing programs to support transition in areas moving towards a state of post-conflict. She noted that there remains an opportunity for long-term progress in the DRC to be realized, which can pave the way to a responsible and sustainable withdrawal of the Mission in the coming years.