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W.Swing: The CIAT will cease its functions when the new president takes up his duties

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Monuc - September 11, 2006 12:12 PM

William Swing

On Saturday September 9 2006, William Swing, the UN Special Representative in the DRC, gave a progress report to Radio Okapi on the role of MONUC, in this part of the political transition.

INTERVIEW

What does the international community, the CIAT and the Congolese government envisage in order to secure the second round of the presidential electoral campaign, especially after what occurred in Kinshasa last month?
Firstly, it is the Congolese National Police (PNC) which is responsible for the security of the elections; this is registered in a presidential decree which dates from May 6, 2005.

However, we have, with other partners, in particular the European Union, France, Angola, South Africa as well as other countries, taken the commitment to help the DRC to train 50,000 police officers to secure the 50,000 polling stations throughout the country.

Secondly, there is a coordinating committee, i.e. a steering committee charged with the security of the elections which meets regularly under the supervision of the Minister of the Interior and others such as those for Defense, Justice as well as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the directors of the PNC and the donors, to plan the security of the elections.

Meanwhile and within a more total framework, we are continuing to make efforts to support the FARDC, especially in the east, to repatriate the armed elements, in particular the 9000 armed foreign elements, the majority of which are Rwandan interahamwe which must be repatriated in order to bring back peace in this part of the country.
 
Why can’t MONUC disarm the militia of the two candidates for the second round and ensure their protection until the elections?

You need to go quite a long way back to answer this question. The Republican Guard of president Kabila and the protection unit for vice president Bemba are units of the FARDC. Secondly, it should be noted that these two units have not gone through the brassage* process.

This means they are among the 87,000 elements of the FARDC which did not pass through one of the 6 centres of retraining and reintegration, but who were nonetheless deployed to different areas of the country.

It is true that there are too many troops and weapons in Kinshasa. Since the unhappy events of August 20 to August 22, MONUC has ensured the protection of the vice-president Bemba, at the request of president Kabila.
 
One should not also forget that we had a mandate, from 2003 until May 2006 to ensure the protection of vice presidents Bemba and Ruberwa, according to the agreements of Sun City and Pretoria.
 
But this protection was discontinued with the beginning of the election campaign. Today, if it is the wish of the two candidates for MONUC to assist them in their protection, we are willing to consider this, but at the moment, it has not been demanded.
 
How long will MONUC remain in the Congo after the installation of the new institutions?

That is a very good question, but it is difficult for me to answer it, because I do not have the answer. What I can say is that such a decision, in order to prolong the presence of MONUC, will depend largely on two considerations.

Firstly, what will be the wish of the new elected government, what it will want to do? Will it ask MONUC to remain as it is, or will it want to see MONUC acting in another capacity?

To these questions I do not have any answers at present. Secondly, all will also depend on the Security Council, because we are an institution created by the Security Council. Then, it is necessary to know how to make the distinction between the end of the transition and the end of the tasks of the transition.

The transition will finish with the installation of an elected President, but the tasks of the transition will continue, because at least 40 percent of the tasks are not completed. There remains a lot do in order to form a new army, a new police force.

There remains at least 9000 foreign elements in the east of the country; there remains the problem of the mine clearance, the restoration of the authority of the state through this vast country.

But MONUC is also in competition with other peacekeeping missions throughout the world: there are 18 of them, and competition for budgets is becoming increasingly fierce.

In August, for the first time in the history of the United Nations, the Security Council approved three new peacekeeping missions, including Lebanon. The budget, which was less than 3 billion 5 years ago, has increased to over five billion, and will probably exceed eight billion in 2007.

Thus your question also returns us to the decision of the Security Council. However if you ask me whether MONUC still has goals to achieve in the DRC, I will say yes.

Did the CIAT and the IEC envisage the second round of presidential elections? If so, why didn't they organize it according to the Constitution?

The issue of article 71 is much discussed today. The problem is rather practical. On a practical and logistical level, it is impossible to organise the second round within 15 days.

What one must know it is that the preparations have begun, and we have already started. Since September 5 last we have been forwarding 1,200 tons of electoral kits from South Africa to Congo. Furthermore, it is necessary to distribute these kits in 50,000 polling stations, often in very isolated places.

For all that, I believe that we require all the time that remains, especially as we lost one week after the unhappy events in Kinshasa, between August 20 and 22.

What is the reaction of MONUC following the declaration of Karel de Gucht, who said that it is necessary to put Congo under international supervision, even after the elections. And what will become of the CIAT after the elections?

MONUC is an institution of the Security Council and it receives its mandates directly from the 15 members of the Council. The mandates of MONUC are very clear: we are here to play a role of support, to assist the government and the institutions of the transition.

And we support them on several fronts: to return the foreign troops who are always in the east, to help the FARDC to bring to an end to the armed groups in Ituri, to help the police force to protect the civilian population, especially women girls and children against sexual violence, and to support the government and the IEC in organising successful elections.

As for the CIAT, it is a unique institution, as it is an institution of the transition itself, as mentioned in all the agreements. The CIAT has a great responsibility, along with the other institutions, in relation to the achievement of the goals of the transition, in particular the elections, because it is the last stage of the transition.

But, with regard to the future, as an institution of the transition, the CIAT will cease existing, like the other institutions of the transition, when the new president is elected and has taken up his duties.

*Brassage is a process whereby former armed combatants from all over the DRC are retrained in special centers, and reintegrated into the DRC armed forces - the FARDC.


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