Analysis: MUBANGA LUMPA
THE United Nations (UN) Security Council on March 27, 2018 adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) until March 31, 2019.
The resolution, presented by France on March 14, 2018, sets three priority tasks: protection of civilians, implementation of the December 31, 2016 agreement on elections and support for the electoral process, and protection of UN personnel and facilities.
MONUSCO is the department of peacekeeping operations and the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and also the biggest UN peacekeeping force with about 16,125 troops.
Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 members, and each member has one vote. Under the Charter, all member-states are obligated to comply with the council decisions.
The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It also calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorising the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.
In the recent past, the UN and its agencies, including other international NGOs, have raised concerns on the worsening humanitarian situation in the DRC. According to some UN sources, in 2017, 2.2 million people became internally displaced, bringing the total number of internally displaced to 4.5 million people, and 680,000 Congolese fled to neighbouring countries.
In addition, more than 13 million people in DRC depend on humanitarian aid to survive, while about 7.7 million people are severely food-insecure, and more than two million children are severely malnourished.
Further, in January 2018, the UN reported that the World Food Program (WFP) warned that severe famine in the Kasai region is imminent. There have also been widespread reported violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law in the DRC, including targeted attacks against civilians and peacekeepers, attacks against humanitarian personnel and a high prevalence of gender-based violence.
According to an agreement reached between President Joseph Kabila and the opposition political parties on December 31, 2016, elections in DRC were to be held by the end of 2017 following President Kabila’s second and last term (under the country’s constitution), which ended in December 2016.
This puts the country at a crucial turning point in its history. For the first time, a peaceful transition of power following President Kabila’s term is being expected. This in itself has given hope to many stakeholders in DRC of a brighter future and an end to the political crisis, which has engulfed the mineral-rich country for many years.
However, to achieve this, all the political players in the country will need to unite in order to respond to the wishes and aspirations of the Congolese people for a peaceful and politically stable country. There is no doubt that the holding of free, fair, credible, open, transparent and peaceful elections in accordance with the DRC constitution is something that all the political actors and stakeholders are expecting and hoping for.
The onus is on all political players and the citizens of that country to ensure that the country remains on the path of peace and of strengthening its democratic institutions. There is need for all actors to the DRC electoral process to continue with all forms of dialogue aimed at finding a lasting solution to the crisis and that the combined presidential, legislative and provincial elections scheduled for December 23, 2018 can take place in a peaceful climate and in a spirit of consensus that brings together all the political players and stakeholders in the country.
It is gratifying to note that MONUSCO will provide political support to the implementation of the December 31, 2016 agreement, and technical assistance and logistical support for the electoral process in DRC. The UN organ is also tasked with monitoring the elections to ensure that any support provided by the UN shall be consistent with international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law as applicable, while the UN Security Council will continuously review this support according to the progress made by the DRC authorities in the steering of the electoral process.
Therefore, apart from the UN, other institutions such as the African Union (AU), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) should continue to make efforts to help DRC to get through the difficult period that the country is going through and to do their utmost best to promote a fruitful and peaceful political transition through dialogue, respect of the rule of law and establish a credible electoral calendar in the interests of peace, stability and a common vision in the DRC and the rest of the region, which have been plagued by decades of political instability, armed conflicts, porous borders and humanitarian crises, as well as tensions over natural resources.
The author is a social commentator and blogger.
Analysis: MUBANGA LUMPA