Security Councils visit will show DR of Congo that it must accept

After briefing the Council in closed session on the strategic aspects of its upcoming five-country trip, Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations told journalists that the elections in DRC next year were at once unifying and divisive.On the one hand, some 19.2 million Congolese had registered; on the other hand, they would have to reckon with the fact that the “most important event in the history of the country” would yield winners and losers, he said.”It is very important that the people understand that they must not miss this opportunity. It is for all the leaders in the Congo not to try to spoil the elections. A powerful message from the international community will be important in that regard,” he said.From 4 to 10 November the 15-member Council mission, led by Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France, is scheduled to visit the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, which have had conflicts, and Tanzania, which has both acted as mediator and hosted many refugees.Mr. Guéhenno said foreign armed groups bringing suffering to local people would have to leave the eastern DRC, but the forested Kivu provinces were as big as Burundi and Rwanda together and lacked the needed infrastructure for a sustained military campaign.The alternative strategy was to throw the fighters off-balance and then disarm some of them, even though the risk was that they might retaliate against civilians, he said.The most recent push against the rebel Forces démocratiques pour la liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) in Virunga National Park, where some surrendered and some fled, would prevent the FDLR from believing that they could stay in DRC unchallenged, exploiting its natural resources, he said, but he added that he told the Security Council that a new strategy was needed.In this regard, an incentive package to FDLR fighters might break the tight hold of a ruthless chain of command, especially if the Rwandan Government also said that those who disarmed would be welcome at home, he said.Mr. Guéhenno said he also told the Council that the international community needed a stronger commitment to strengthening the DRC State so that it could re-assert its own authority across the country.”No foreign force can ever provide that,” he said. “We don’t have the intelligence or the resources.”

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