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Congo-Kinshasa: Peace Process Implementation
Africa Policy E-Journal
October 17, 2003 (031017)
Congo-Kinshasa: Peace Process Implementation
(Reposted from sources cited below)
This posting contains several interviews and short reports on
implementation of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of
Congo. The interviews are with Ituri Administration Leader
Petronille Vaweka and with William Swing, special representative of
the UN Secretary-General. Ms. Vaweka was a leader of the peace and
human rights organization Fondation Paix Durable before being
elected to head the interim administration in Ituri. Both
interviews and news reports indicate progress but major challenges
in turning the peace agreement into an effective mechanism for
security for civilians, particularly in the eastern Congo.
All the documents in this posting come from the UN Integrated
Regional Information Networks (IRIN) or the United Nations in New
York. Material from IRIN is available at http://www.irinnews.org.
It may be redistributed with attribution and the disclaimer that
it "may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or
its agencies." UN press releases are available at
IRIN Interview With Ituri Administration Leader Petronille Vaweka
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
September 17, 2003
Petronille Vaweka is the president of the interim administration of
the embattled Ituri District, Orientale Province of northeastern
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a natural resource-rich
region that has been devastated by several years of economically
driven ethnic strife that has resulted in the death of some 50,000
people and the displacement of another 500,000 since August 1998,
when the latest war in the Congo erupted.
Fighting between primarily Hema and Lendu militias and allied
ethnic groups has continued despite the installation on 30 June of
a two-year transitional government on and the recent formation of
a united national army, ostensibly bringing an end to over four
years of war.
Vaweka has also been chosen to serve as a deputy from her province
to the National Assembly, part of the two-year national transition
government leading to democratic elections.
IRIN spoke to Vaweka on Friday in Brussels, Belgium, during a
European tour organised by Pax Christi International, an
international Catholic movement for peace. Her visit came as the
EU-led interim peace enforcement mission, "Artemis", had handed
over responsibility for security of Bunia, the main town of Ituri,
to the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUC. Unlike
"Artemis", whose operational jurisdiction was restricted to Bunia,
MONUC now faces the challenge of ensuring peace throughout the
IRIN: How would you evaluate the "Artemis" operation - did it bring
stability to Bunia?
Vaweka: The "Artemis" mission was necessary, as it came at a
critical juncture: people were beginning to lose hope, and MONUC
did not have a sufficiently strong mandate. Armed groups were
beginning to reinforce themselves, and it was thanks to "Artemis"
that we were able to avoid the worst from happening. Since the
fighting of May and June 2003, the town of Bunia was emptied of its
inhabitants. Many were able to return during the "Artemis"
operation, and if they were unable to return to their homes, they
were at least able to stay in temporary shelters in the town.
IRIN: Now that "Artemis" has completed its mission, is there a risk
of the previous conflict erupting once again?
Vaweka: The mission of "Artemis" was not to deploy into the
interior of Ituri, but rather to secure and disarm the town of
Bunia. The MONUC force that has recently arrived will have an
immense task, as it will have to build on what "Artemis" has
accomplished in order to deploy its troops into the interior of
However, for it to be successful, three conditions will have to be
met: maintain a strategy in line with its mandate under Chapter
Seven of the UN Charter [which authorises the use of force],
provide the number of soldiers that have been promised, and adhere
to the deployment plan. But I am already encouraged by the fact
that "Artemis" has shown the way, and MONUC has shown itself to be
willing to dialogue with the people of Ituri.
IRIN: What is the future of the Ituri Pacification Commission (IPC)
given the recent installation of the two-year national transitional
government in Kinshasa?
Vaweka: The current Ituri administration is an intermediate one. It
will be necessary in the near future that the national transitional
government extend its authority in a more visible manner throughout
Ituri. Let us say that the IPC will need a few more months to
prepare people for living together peacefully, which is the IPC's
main role. Until now, the IPC has not been able to work effectively
because of the armed groups.
IRIN: What will become of these armed groups?
Vaweka: "Artemis" engaged these militias in a political dialogue,
which led to certain of them agreeing to cantonment until they
could be demobilised. Add to that the armed groups consultation
commission ["la commission de concertation des groupes armes",
which is part of the IPC], through which the [militia] leaders can
discuss their points of view, and the recent meeting [among the
militias] that was held in Kinshasa, I am convinced that the
[militia] leaders are beginning to commit themselves to peace.
Although I am aware that certain militias have not yet disarmed and
that arms continue to arrive [in Ituri].
IRIN: Until their disarmament and demobilisation, what will prevent
them from carrying out attacks?
Vaweka: Since the [Ituri] assembly was put in place in April 2003,
we have been asking for technical and other support for the
cantonment of these groups, but with no response yet, other than
promises. MONUC said that it was not mandated to handle this.
Meanwhile, the situation has gotten worse and armed groups have
transformed themselves into groups of bandits who pillage to
sustain themselves and who form pockets of resistance all over the
place. That shows just how important a demobilisation and
reinsertion programme is. In three months, with qualified technical
experts, we could manage to resolve the situation. We hope that the
[national] transitional government will assume responsibility for
this programme, and the support of international organisations
would be appreciated.
IRIN: How about the humanitarian situation at present - is the
Vaweka: You could mobilise all the humanitarian means at your
disposal, but that would not resolve the underlying problem of
Ituri, given the number of displaced persons and the total
destruction of the economy. You can care for the displaced from
week to week, but that will never be enough. On the other hand,
humanitarian agencies could try to return the displaced people to
their homes, in places such as Butembo, Beni, Kanyabayonga, and
from [neighbouring] Uganda.
However, in order to accomplish this, security must be restored so
that people can return to their homes and begin to cultivate crops.
Furthermore, the humanitarian programme must be better thought-out:
mafias are organising themselves in the displaced camps - meal
tickets are being sold, and food supplies are being stockpiled, all
to the detriment of the truly vulnerable people who can no longer
access this aid.
IRIN: What does the future hold for you?
Vaweka: Do I really have a say in the matter? I entered politics
without having wanted to, when the people of Ituri made me the head
of their assembly. Having just begun that job, I was named a deputy
at the national level. My greatest concern is that my political
involvement will serve to bring peace to Ituri. When that has been
achieved, I think I will return to working in the humanitarian NGO
sector. My true "raison d'etre" is to help the most vulnerable and
all those who are suffering.
MONUC's Swing Hails New Phase of Improved Relations
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
October 3, 2003
The UN Secretary-General's special representative for the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), William Swing, has hailed
a new phase of improved relations among the countries in the Great
Lakes region of Africa, following last week's high-level meeting
convened by Kofi Annan to discuss the ongoing peace process in the
Congo, the UN Department of Public Information reported.
Speaking at a news conference in New York on Wednesday, Swing said
a declaration issued from Thursday's meeting among representatives
from the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda had introduced "a phase in
which we look forward to improving the neighbourhood, to improving
good neighbourly relations" in the Great Lakes region.
He said the declaration was a substantial step forward in
addressing the necessary confidence-building measures to develop a
better understanding in the region, and that it had set the tone
for an international conference being planned for the coming year
to discuss peace, stability, development, and democracy in the
He said the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, had increased
its multinational peacekeeping force from 8,700 to 10,800 troops,
which would be split almost equally between Ituri District and the
Kivu Provinces of the east, where much of the fighting had taken
place, and where a good deal of violence was still occurring. He
said the west, north, and central parts of the country were calm,
and that MONUC had removed most of its troops from these areas.
Swing said that the country's thousands of child soldiers were an
ongoing concern for MONUC, and that the mission was dealing with
the problem through its human rights and demobilisation programme,
and via child protection officers posted throughout the country.
Asked about the sincerity of Congolese parties to the country's
peace process, Swing said he had seen a great deal of improvement
in Kinshasa, the capital, compared to two years ago when the
country was at war, and when he was the US ambassador.
"Today, all those who were fighting are now in the same
government," he said.
He added that the 500-member National Assembly and the 120-member
Senate were functioning, and a council of ministers was meeting
every week. Moreover, the Congolese flag was flying throughout the
country, a single national currency was circulating, and the Congo
River system had been reopened to commercial traffic.
IRIN Interview With MONUC Chief On Latest Ituri Massacre
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
October 8, 2003
William Swing, the UN Secretary-General's special representative to
the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and head of the UN
peacekeeping mission in the country, known as MONUC, spoke to IRIN
on Wednesday on the most recent massacre in the troubled
northeastern district of Ituri.
This time the killings took place in Katshele, 15 km southeast of
Bule, which is about 60 km northeast of Bunia, the main town of
Ituri. The latest count indicated that at least 65 people,
primarily women and children, had been killed. [See earlier IRIN
story, "At least 55 killed in Katshele, Ituri District" at
At least 50,000 people have died and 500,000 have been displaced in
Ituri since the most recent war in the country erupted in August
1998, due in large part to economically-motivated ethnic-based
Swing explained what measures the mission was taking to avoid
further massacres in a region where the UN had already deployed
some 3,300 peacekeeping soldiers.
IRIN: What is MONUC doing to shed light on the circumstances of
Swing: First of all, we are continuing the work of Artemis [the
EU-led peace-enforcement mission that was deployed from June to
September], but with a mandate that covers not only Bunia, but also
the entire District of Ituri, which is more or less the size of
Sierra Leone, or Liberia. We are currently carrying out helicopter
sorties every day. We have greatly increased our helicopter forces.
We are now in the process of establishing three or four bases
across Ituri for a more permanent deployment.
IRIN: When and where will these forces be deployed, other than
Swing: No later then next week. I cannot give you the names of the
villages, but they will be strategically located so that we can
better control the movements of armed groups.
IRIN: This latest massacre has taken place despite the reinforced
presence of 3,318 UN peacekeeping soldiers in Bunia. What measures
is MONUC taking to ensure that this does not happen again?
Swing: As part of the helicopter sorties we have conducted during
the past month, the locality of Katshele, where the massacre took
place, was among the places being monitored. Unfortunately, we
cannot be everywhere at all times, as was the case for Katshele on
that particular day. But we arrived there only a few hours after
receiving news [of the massacre]. We were on the spot with a
multidisciplinary team of soldiers and humanitarian actors. We went
back there the following day. And we are now continuing our
investigation, not only in Katshele, but in the villages
surrounding Katshele from where the people who committed these
crimes had come.
IRIN: Has your inquiry yielded any information on who was
responsible for this latest massacre?
Swing: Yes, we have ideas. We believe it involved ethnic-based
elements. But I think it is better that the investigation be
completed before speaking publicly on this.
African Leaders Pledge Non-Interference At Talks Called By Annan
United Nations (New York)
September 25, 2003
Representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and
three neighbouring countries today agreed to refrain from
interference in each other's affairs, and to prevent arms shipments
to warring groups in the eastern areas of the country following a
meeting called by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
According to a communique issued after the high-level ad hoc
meeting, the DRC, Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda pledged to "respect
the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the political
independence of one another" and "refrain from interfering directly
or indirectly in one another's internal affairs."
The countries also promised to "refrain from any action aimed at
the partial or total disruption of the stability, national unity
and territorial integrity of one another," as well as "prevent, in
this regard, the direct or indirect support of arms and support to
armed groups operating in the eastern part of the DRC."
The statement was agreed to by the Presidents of Burundi and the
DRC, the Prime Minister of Rwanda, and the Second Deputy Prime
Minister of Uganda, in the presence of the President of Mozambique,
the current Chairperson of the African Union, and the Ministers of
Foreign Affairs of Angola, South Africa and Tanzania.
A spokesman for Mr. Annan said, "The Secretary-General is gratified
at the successful conclusion of the high-level meeting."
In the text of his remarks to the closed-door meeting issued
earlier Thursday, the Secretary-General lauded progress in the DRC,
but warned more had to be accomplished.
Citing the "substantial progress that has been made in the past
year," including the signing of peace agreements between warring
parties, and the establishment of a transitional government in
Kinshasa, Mr. Annan said: "Much has been achieved. But the job is
not done. It is not even close to done. Enormous challenges lie
Mr. Annan said: "In meeting those challenges, I hope you will be
guided by certain common principles. There should be no overt or
covert interference in each other's affairs. All States in the
region must respect one another's sovereignty. All support for
armed groups must end. There must be no illegal exploitation of the
natural resources of the DRC. Transparent, good-neighbourly
relations must be established. There must be respect for civilians
and for the human rights of all citizens."
The Secretary-General stressed that the UN team in the area, and
the new transitional government need the support and backing of all
the countries represented in the meeting. "Real peace also requires
all outsiders to cut off support to armed groups and terminate the
flow of weapons," he added.
"It is far too early to declare success," he said. "A lot more
needs to happen before lasting peace is secured."
Focus On the Challenge UN Troops Face in Ituri District
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
September 17, 2003
[Excerpts only: For full text see
Even though the new Bangladeshi troops of the UN Mission in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) stepped onto Bunia's dusty
airport in early September with apparent breezy confidence, they
were under no illusion of the difficult task ahead.
"This is going to be a challenge," Maj. Jamil Rashid, MONUC's
security chief at Bunia National Airport told IRIN last Tuesday,
"The airfield was attacked in May when UN forces were here. And
there are still pockets of lawlessness all around the town. We're
going to have to be vigilant." ...
Militias still active
[Most worrying], Ituri residents said, was the violence being
perpetuated by the region's still-active small militia groups.
Outright fighting between groups may have died down, but many
Iturians think militia activity has simply degenerated into
low-level banditry, including 'hit and run' attacks on civilians.
"You can stay on the main street here but you wander out by less
than half a kilometre, they are there. They are hiding in the bush,
ambushing people and dragging them off to be killed," said Lolo
Bosuo, a former owner of a Bunia Internet cafe recently looted by
an armed gang.
A question of strategy
MONUC officials are pondering the methods they need to adopt to
stop these acts of lawlessness given their sporadic nature and the
finite resources at the disposal of the UN troops. With only 4,500
of them expected to police a district with 4.2 million people, the
task appears daunting. .,.
Some MONUC officials point out that one of the decisions UN
peacekeepers may have to make is to choose when to act tough, "to
show they mean business". A MONUC demobilisation officer based in
North Kivu, William Deng Deng, told IRIN in Bunia on 9 September
that if UN soldiers flexed their muscles to show that they're were
under Chapter 7 the tactic would work.
"I'm convinced the successes we've had in Beni and Butembo are down
to our South African contingent," he said. "Those guys are tough on
the armed groups. They're not afraid to venture right out into the
bush to track down those militias and force them to disarm or
Yet not all MONUC officials are so confident that their access to
military firepower would make the mission easy.
"You can have a Chapter 7 mandate but actually using it in a
Chapter 7 situation is a difficult business," Philippe de Bard, the
chief officer of political affairs for the MONUC operation, said.
"As a peacekeeper, the decision to whether or not to kill is always
a difficult one. Likewise, having attack helicopters is one thing;
using them effectively in a place like Ituri is something else."
Chances of success
Whether or not MONUC will success, only time will tell. But there
are encouraging signs that at least some of Ituri's former
combatants are now willing to renounce violence and return to
"Everyday a lot of people come to us voluntarily to surrender their
guns," Nizar told IRIN in Bunia "We have a big fire everyday to
destroy all the weapons we have recovered".
Meanwhile, Ituri's peacekeepers say they are confident they are up
to the job. "We're very happy to be in Ituri," Mahmud Hussain,
operations chief for the Bangladeshi contingent, said. "I'm hoping
that when we're finished, things will be very different around
Date distributed (ymd): 031017
Region: Central Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+
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