Possibility of accelerating UN deployment mooted

Asked by the press later in the day about the changes to UN deployment in Kisangani, a spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that it could be possible to change plans for deployment but that it would depend on soldiers being made available by troop-contributing countries. “It is possible to switch the deployment plan to put Kisangani at the top of the list” for deployment, Annan’s spokesman Fred Eckhard added, but the speed with which troops could be sent to Kisangani would depend on how quickly contributing governments made them available. He declined to state which countries had been approached for troops. Meanwhile, delegation member Jeremy Greenstock of the UK said Kisangani “seemed a prime location for the co-location of MONUC and the Joint Military Commission” - given that Kinshasa was absolutely unacceptable to the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) - and that a UN assessment of such a proposition would be most helpful to the Security Council.

There were two opposing considerations for the Security Council to take into account: the expediency of rapid phase II deployment for helping the peace process and the imperative of assuring peacekeepers’ safety, according to Wednesday’s debate. Canadian representative Robert Fowler expressed concern that MONUC’s capacity did not match its mission, and called for a review of the current plans and parameters for the mission to ensure it had secure conditions, sufficient resources and a sufficiently robust mandate to be more than “a passive witness” to events in the DRC. The Security Council mission also reported that, at its instigation, particular parties had said they were prepared to take steps to exchange prisoners of war and urged the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to renew its efforts to achieve practical results in this regard.