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DR Congo: Security Council discusses key challenges and risks in an election year

18 May 2011 – The Security Council today called for urgent steps to strengthen institutions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and called on the country’s Government to ensure that general elections slated for late this year are inclusive, transparent and peaceful.

In a presidential statement issued following its discussion on the DRC, the Council said judicial reform and support for domestic courts will ensure the rule of law and strengthen the fight against impunity.

“In this regard, the Council notes the interest of the Congolese authorities for establishing specialized mixed courts to address serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, complemented by their existing cooperation with the International Criminal Court,” the Council said.

The 15-member panel urged the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and other international partners to support Congolese Government to restore basic services, including access to justice, roads, health care and education services, as wells as security throughout the country, and particularly in conflict-affected areas.

Earlier, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that the forthcoming elections must be transparent, credible, peaceful and secure to ease tensions and build transparent and accountable institutions.

Presidential and legislative polls are scheduled for 28 November, with provincial and local polls following thereafter.

“We must do our utmost to ensure that violence does not break out before, during, or after the elections. We have invested much – and there is much to lose,” Mr. Ban told the Council.

He said MONUSCO will continue to provide logistical and technical support to the electoral process, for which the mission will require additional resources.

The Council noted that the overall peace and security situation in the DRC had improved, and acknowledged the results of actions taken by the Government to address the threat posed by illegal foreign and local armed groups, particularly the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR).

Significant security challenges, however, remained, in North Kivu, South Kivu and Orientale provinces.

The Council called upon the Congolese authorities to “swiftly adopt the necessary legal framework and implement their long-term vision for the role and structure of the army and police, and strongly encourages MONUSCO and international partners to provide coordinated support for these reforms.”

The Council reiterated its deep concern over persistent high levels of violence, especially sexual assaults, and other human rights abuses against civilians, including women and children.

Mr. Ban welcomed the Government’s increased leadership in addressing sexual violence, including the fight against impunity, which has entailed strengthening the military justice system and prosecuting some of those accused of sexual and gender-based violence and other crimes.

“We must ensure that the victims of sexual violence receive the proper attention and care. Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1888, we have deployed a team of experts that is working with national authorities to strengthen the rule of law,” he added.

The presidential statement underlined the importance of economic development in DRC to facilitate long-term stability. It stressed that special attention should be given to women’s empowerment and economic participation, job creation for youth, and reintegration of ex-combatants. It also underlined the need for further progress in ensuring that trade in mineral resources is founded on sound economic governance practices, and is transparent, fair and legal.

Commenting on economic recovery, Mr. Ban said he was encouraged by the DRC’s efforts to combat the illegal exploitation of natural resources, including through regional initiatives.

“These and other steps can support the DRC’s efforts to prevent acts that drive conflict and deprive the country of vital revenues,” he added.

In his address to the Council, DRC’s Minister for International and Regional Cooperation Raymond Tshibanda said the improvement of the security situation in his country over the past two years is noteworthy.

“Significant progress has indeed been made in terms of the reduction of threats against the safety of the people and the improvement of conditions for the Government to take charge of security,” said Mr. Tshibanda.

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