During her first press conference for the year 2020, on Wednesday 15 January in Kinshasa, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO, Leila Zerrougui, stated that in the new mandate of MONUSCO adopted by the UN Security Council on 19 December 2019, there are clarified and strengthened provisions to make the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo more effective.
In front of journalists from national and international medias, Leila Zerrougui presented the broad lines of the UN Mission's mandate.
Among the relevant provisions, according to Ms. Zerrougui, the new mandate calls on MONUSCO to give priority to the protection of civilians while underlying the political aspects, development and community reconciliation. It also calls on the Mission to support the basic governance functions of the Congolese State.
Leila Zerrougui explained that the new Security Council resolution additionally calls on MONUSCO to support the DRC in fulfilling its regional commitments to facilitate stability and peace.
Strengthening police presence is also an important aspect of the new mandate, she said. It will help prepare for police personnel to take over from soldiers in areas where peace is increasingly less threatened.
"No one, either in the international community or among the neighbors, has territorial ambitions on the Congo.
On the question of MONUSCO's withdrawal from the DRC, Ms. Zerrougui explained that the Security Council asked the Mission to submit, by 20 October 2020 at the latest, a coordinated report with the DRC authorities that would envisage the gradual and responsible exit of the UN Mission.
Responding to a question about rumors of a plan to "balkanize" the DRC, the head of MONUSCO said that there is "no one, either within the international community or among [the DRC's] neighbors, who has territorial ambitions on the Congo". Leila Zerrougui thus rejected the idea of any international conspiracy to "balkanize" the DRC.
On the ground in the country, she said, "there have been more than 1,900 members of armed groups and their dependents who have been repatriated to Rwanda, in collaboration with MONUSCO after the operations carried out by the FARDC (...)".
"With all the work we are doing, how can anyone say that we are complicit in the Balkanization, or that the government was totally disarmed and that the Congo is being carved up? Who could break up the Congo today? " she said.
The Head of MONUSCO finally took advantage of this first meeting with journalists to wish them all the best for the New Year.