Country Overview
Democratic Republic of Congo


Situation Analysis/Context:

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was established as a Belgian colony in 1908. It gained independence in 1960 and was headed by Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, and President Joseph Kasavubu. In 1961, President Kasavubu dismissed and arrested Lumumba, who was then killed by the opposition. In 1965, Colonel Joseph Desire Mubuto (later known as Mubuto Sese Seko), ousted the new Prime Minister Moise Tshombe and President Kasavubu. In 1971, Mobutu changed the country’s name to Zaire and ruled the nation for 32 years.

Further to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the DRC became home to a large number of Rwandan Hutu refugees who fled the country upon the arrival in power of the Tutsi backed Rwandan Patriotic Front. Amongst these refugees were many who had been involved in the genocide in Rwanda (also known as the interahamwe). Rwandan rebel groups based in the DRC began to launch operations into Rwanda and in retaliation the Government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, supported by Burundi and Uganda intervened in the DRC by backing a Congolese rebel leader, Laurent Desire Kabila.

By May of 1997, with the support of his Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundian backers Laurent Kabila had taken the capital Kinshasa and toppled Mobutu Sese Seko who fled into exile. One of President Kabila’s frst moves was to rename the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Not long after coming to power Kabila took steps to remove Tutsis from his government, including a Rwandan who had been serving as the army Chief of Staff. Further to this purge, Rwanda intervened in DRC for a second time, this time with the intention of removing President Kabila. Rwandan troops backing Congolese Tutsi rebels invaded in August 1998. Kabila called for assistance from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and troops from Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, intervened to support the Kinshasa regime, sparking what some called Africa’s first world war.

A ceasefire agreement was signed at Lusaka, Zambia, in July 1999 and the United Nations Security Council established the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) in November 1999. On 24 February 2000, the Security Council, by its resolution 1291 authorized the expansion of the Mission to consist of up to 5,537 military personnel, including up to 500 observers and depsite the ceasefire agreement, violence largely fuelled by fighting over mineral resources continued, particularly in the East of the DRC. A turning point in the peace process came in January 2001 when Laurent Kabila was assassinated and replaced by his son, Joseph Kabila. This provided a new impetus to the peace process and by the end of 2002, Rwanda and Uganda had withdrawn their troops from the DRC.

A power-sharing unity government was set up under Joseph Kabila in July 2003. Meanwhile, a long-simmering conflict over land and mineral wealth in north-eastern Ituri region broke into widespread inter-ethnic violence and massacres in 2002-2003. This precipitated the deployment of a more robust United Nations Peacekeeping Operation and MONUC’s troop strength was increased to over 17,000 troops.

In 2006 the international community supported successful elections in the DRC in which Joseph Kabila was elected president.

Strategy and Approach

DDR Mandate

The United Nations has been mandated to assist with several different DDR operations in the DRC, as follows:

Disarmament, Demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and resettlement (DDRRR) of foreign combatants

Security Council Resolution 1291(2000) of 24 February 2000 calls upon MONUC to develop, an action plan “for the overall implementation of the [Lusaka] Ceasefire Agreement by all concerned with particular emphasis on the following key objectives: the collection and verification of military information on the parties’ forces, the maintenance of the cessation of hostilities and the disengagement and redeployment of the parties’ forces, the comprehensive disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and reintegration of all members of all armed groups referred to in Annex A, Chapter 9.1 of the Ceasefire Agreement, and the orderly withdrawal of all foreign forces”.

This mandate was further strengthened by Security Council Resolution 1565 (2004) of 1 October 2004. In paragraph 5 (c) of that resolution, the Council decided that MONUC would “support operations to disarm foreign combatants led by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including by undertaking the steps listed in paragraph 75, subparagraphs (b), (c), (d) and (e). Those steps are listed as follows:

(b) An augmented and fully deployed MONUC military presence in the Kivus, acting in support of FARDC operations, would take a more active and robust role in disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration, including through measures such as cordon and search operations, declaration of weapon-free zones and operations to ensure respect for the arms embargo, with a view to preventing the resupply of the foreign armed groups, from whatever sources;

(c) A suitably resourced MONUC military force would position itself, in close coordination with the FARDC, to deter or prevent reprisal attacks by foreign elements against the Congolese civilian population;

(d) MONUC disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration teams would be put in place to take advantage of the physical scattering of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe units following stepped-up FARDC actions against them. Where security and logistics considerations permit, such teams would gather deserters and their dependents, and facilitate their voluntary disarmament and repatriation. MONUC would expand and intensify Radio Okapi broadcasting and coverage to support these operations;

(e) Full support would be provided to the Joint Verification Mechanism, made up of representatives of the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, as well as Burundi and Uganda on an as-needed basis. Those representatives would assist in identifying and locating foreign armed groups.”

Further, by subparagraph 5 (d) of resolution 1565 (2004), the Council asked MONUC “to facilitate the demobilization and voluntary repatriation of the disarmed foreign combatants and their dependents”.

Voluntary disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of Congolese combatants:

By Security Resolution 1493 of July 28, 2003, MONUC is also tasked to ‘assist the Government of National Unity and Transition in disarming and demobilizing those Congolese combatants voluntarily decide to enter the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process within the framework of the Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Programme’ (S/RES/1493).

In addition, Resolution 1565 adopted in October of 2004, in relation to DDR, mandates MONUC to:

•contribute to the disarmament portion of the national programme of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of Congolese combatants and their dependants, in monitoring the process and providing as appropriate security in some sensitive locations.
• seize or collect, as appropriate, arms and any related materiel whose presence in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo violates the measures imposed by paragraph 20 of resolution 1493, and dispose of such arms and related materiel as appropriate
• support of the Government of National Unity and Transition: …to support operations to disarm foreign combatants led by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the facilitate the demobilization and voluntary repatriation of the disarmed foreign combatants and their dependants
• establish the necessary operational links with the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), and with the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, in order to coordinate efforts towards monitoring and discouraging cross-border movements of combatants between the two countries

Approaches and Strategies
MONUC’s mandate to conduct the disarmament and repatriation of foreign armed groups by voluntary means, has been complicated by the absence until very recently of a Congolese force able or willing to take military action against the armed groups. Furthermore, the fact that MONUC can neither negotiate with the leadership of the foreign armed-groups nor offer them any kind of immunity has obliged the mission to develop highly specific methods for addressing the problem. That fact that these groups not had entered into any cease-fire agreement, or engaged in political discussions with their countries of origin or with MONUC made the situation more difficult.

MONUC’s strategy vis-à-vis the foreign armed groups has therefore evolved over time, not only in response to adjustments in the mandate by the Security Council, but also in light of the growing knowledge and understanding of the real situation of the armed groups on the ground that MONUC has gained through its own extended contacts in the bush.

This evolved and integrated strategy is based on the following considerations:

•The resolution of the armed-group problem is not a prerequisite for the success of the DRC peace process, but will be a by-product of its success;
• Responsibility for the resolution of the problem, both now and after the installation of an elected Congolese Government, rests with the Governments of the subregion. MONUC’s role is to assist them;
• Nevertheless, for various reasons, none of the Governments concerned has been able or willing to accomplish much repatriation. With the exception of the Burundese combatants, who left the DRC to take part in the successful peace process in their country, nearly all the combatants and their dependents who have left the DRC have been contacted, sensitised, persuaded to enter the programme and repatriated by MONUC itself;
• In the absence of any political agreement or cease-fire agreement with the armed groups, or any attempt to discuss such agreements, nearly all the combatants repatriated by MONUC have been deserters from their units, who entered DDRRR as a result of direct or indirect contacts by MONUC personnel;
• The armed-group problem will eventually be resolved as the incoming DRC Government extends its political and military control throughout its territory and cooperates with its neighbours in a serious effort to remove this irritant to relations between them;
• In doing so, the Governments concerned should take into account the existing range of legal measures, as well as the economic activities in which the foreign armed groups are increasingly engaged.

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