UN Security Council reports on recent mission

The establishment of a transitional government in the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kinshasa, the disarming of rebel groups, and the withdrawal of foreign troops are essential next steps to advance the peace process in the DRC, the head of a delegation just back from the Great Lakes region told the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday.

UN News, posted on the Internet, reported that Ambassador Jean-David Levitte of France said the establishment of a transitional government of national unity in Kinshasa would help neighbouring Rwanda deal with its security issues and enable the UN mission in the DRC (known by its French acronym, MONUC) to better discharge its functions.

He hailed progress in the inter-Congolese dialogue, including the adoption of texts constituting a basis for a transition period leading to democratic elections, but cautioned that "there's still a long way to go". Saying that the dialogue would have to produce an inclusive agreement "that leaves no one aside," he added that the parties would have to participate in the dialogue without preconditions and in an open spirit.

In order to take into account the security concerns of the DRC's neighbours, the Council had put forward the idea of a "curtain" of troops, which had been well received by those concerned, Levitte said. The concept would involve deploying, "for a limited time period over a limited space along the borders", troops from neighbouring countries on Congolese soil. "That would be the last stage before complete withdrawal, in order to create a spirit of cooperation and trust between neighbouring countries that are destined to live side by side," he said.

In the absence of success, the DRC risked being divided "into two antagonistic pieces, and this is of concern to us since we are committed to the search for peace and security for the Congo and its region," Levitte said.

On the situation in neighbouring Burundi, he said that while considerable progress had been made, the peace process there remained fragile. He called for a cessation of hostilities, the implementation of reforms during the transition period, and international assistance to support the country. The process towards peace was well under way, but had not become irreversible, he cautioned.

[Click here for a resume of Levitte's briefing]