Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Pope Francis: Congolese be the Authors of Reconciliation and Peace

Pope Francis appeals for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the killing of protesters demonstrating against President Joseph Kabila in several cities across the country.
After meeting recently with the heads of the Congolese Bishops’ Conference, the pope renewed his call during his weekly general audience on 21st December, urging the people of Congo to “be authors of reconciliation and peace.”
“May those who have political responsibility listen to the voice of their own conscience, may they be able to see the cruel suffering of their compatriots and have at heart the common good,” the pope said.
A Joint United Nations press conference was hosted by Félix Prosper Basse, spokesperson for MONUSCO; Florence Marchal, Communications Officer and Coordinator of the United Nations Communication Group (UNCG), from Kinshasa; And Captain Yassine Kasim, acting military spokesman, from Goma. The last press conference of 2016 was attended by Jose Maria Aranaz, Director of the Joint United Nations Office for Human Rights from Kinshasa.

Director of the United Nations Joint Office on Human Rights [Jose Maria Aranaz]: Thank you very much Félix Prosper Basse. Thank you very much to the friends of the press. I would like to start by condemning all the violence that the DRC has suffered in the main cities of the country since 19 December [2016], the destruction of property in Kinshasa; The seats of political parties, the gas stations that have been vandalized; The police stations and the other houses that were burned by the population in Boma.
I would also like to recall the obligations of the authorities to respect fundamental rights and freedoms. We are very concerned about the excessive use of force by state agents, including the PNC, the Republican Guard, the Military Police and the ANR.
We have documented at least 19 confirmed cases of gun death and we are still checking out other cases. There are also 45 people injured and a very high number of people arrested in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Matadi and Goma.
We are also very concerned about the restrictions on the work of media professionals who have been arrested or prevented from doing their job. [The same applies] to restrictions or access to information by our human rights teams and other MONUSCO colleagues.
I should like to end by recalling the obligations of all, but above all of the authorities, to create conditions for respect for fundamental rights and freedoms in this critical period for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Question 2
Ephesian Tumilali / B-One TV: I would like to ask just one question by saying that the [new] government has just come out as the CENCO dialogue continues. Is the second dialogue still meaningful, because we do not know whether the resolutions of this second dialogue will be considered by the members of the Rassemblement because they continue to be reluctant?
MONUSCO [Félix Prosper Basse] spokesperson: Yes, indeed, the announcement of this government was expected by all in my opinion, and of course by the Congolese people who are the first to be affected by the appointment of this government which has Been published recently.
But I think all the actors agreed on this issue and, first of all, the representatives of the CENCO, who said very clearly that the publication or announcement of this government had no impact whatsoever Whether on the continuation of negotiations.
You are talking about the second dialogue, we are talking about the negotiations that are going on at the inter-diocesan center and which should resume today, following a visit by the members of the CENCO to the Holy Father at Vatican.
This also reflects the interest of the whole world in the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, notably the Pope himself, who had not only to formulate prayers, but also to hold a Mass so that Peace can prevail here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
I simply believe that we must welcome this initiative, we must encourage it, we must support it, we must accompany it, because ultimately what is sought is nothing other than Peace, but that hearts and minds can be appeased, divergences can be smoothed out, and something more concrete, something more beneficial to the Congolese people who, ultimately, constitute the Fundamental interest of all political actors, the interest of the entire international community and the friends and partners of the DRC.

Question 3
Tuver Wundi / RTNC (Goma): My concern turns to human rights. When Félix Basse said that the demonstrations must be done according to the respect of the laws in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that the human rights say that there is abusive use in the repression. Is there not a kind of contradiction, when the state services repress those who go outside the laws that you seem to support?
Director of the United Nations Joint Office on Human Rights [Jose Maria Aranaz]: Yes, I talked about the excessive use of force, I gave the figures of those who were shot dead. The deployment of war material has been repeatedly condemned in the control of demonstrations and the authorities were urged urgently to use only non-lethal demonstration control equipment.
The looting and destruction of property should not be confused with the rights of freedom of expression, association or peaceful demonstration.
[We were] also concerned at the large number of arbitrary arrests, targeted before the demonstrations, by members of the civil society, opponents and opposition leaders. And also of those who are perceived as being of the opposition. There was a disturbing number of people who had been arrested because of the color of shirts they wore. As I said, I think the contradiction and the debate between security and fundamental rights and freedoms is a false discussion.
We can respect both, and there are many countries that do. It is the obligation of the authorities to guarantee security on the one hand, which is not incompatible with fundamental rights and freedoms.
MONUSCO [Félix Prosper Basse] spokesman: You will allow me just to bounce back on what Mr. Jose Maria Aranaz said. There is no contradiction on what we have said.
Remember that Mr. Maman Sambo Sidikou himself, once again, called for restraint and calm, but also for the responsibility of the Congolese defense and security forces because, as we have said, Manifestations are enshrined in the Constitution; They should also take place peacefully. It is in this that the responsibility of all is summoned here, so that we can see in a very global way what really happened.
Indeed, we can simply say that it is a balance that must be sought between the control of the crowds, the control of demonstrations, but that must be done with non-lethal weapons. It is in this that the condemnation is much stronger because the death of men is because the disproportionate use of force has been effectively implemented, and that is deplorable, That is what we condemn. That is also why we are calling on the Congolese defense and security forces.
In fact, I am going to bounce back on that, because I think that even the Prime Minister, at his press conference, once again challenged state agents in their intrinsic responsibilities, but all this is in the The preservation of human life and the preservation of the lives of Congolese citizens.

Question 4
Vivian Nzabariba / RTBF & Imburi.info (Goma): I would like to know in relation to the CENCO and the different political classes trying to defuse the political tension prevailing during this period of crisis, yet MONUSCO seems to be backwards or forwards. The deviation from the ongoing work of the dialogue.
Can we know how much MONUSCO could help to influence these political components in order to be able to describe the political situation? The question is addressed to Mr. Félix Basse.
MONUSCO [Félix Prosper Basse] spokesperson: First of all, I would like to point out an inaccuracy when you say that MONUSCO was set aside during this whole process.
I think we have recalled it here enough. The dialogue initiated by His Excellency the President of the Republic and held in the city of the African Union, under the facilitation of Mr. Edem Kodjo, was a dialogue between Congolese. And we have also called on all Congolese to be able to dialogue, because dialogue was the only peaceful way, the only royal road that would enable us to move forward in preserving human lives, but Also avoiding all tensions.
The divergences are fundamental, the divergences certainly exist, but these divergences can be smoothed precisely following talks, following negotiations, following a dialogue between all the Congolese actors.
So I just think that since then we have continued to carry out our activities of good offices, our activities also with certain leaders of the subregion, which should not be neglected either. Role to play in creating a peaceful environment, an environment that allows everyone to move forward, and to focus on the The interests of the Congolese people.
But we have never been put aside, we have always carried out our activities of good offices, we have always also supported the facilitator.
And I think that today the machine is engaged, and the CENCO continues this mediation, we must congratulate the CENCO. Because you know, it's not an easy job, it's not just an activity of any rest.
So I think we have to support this initiative, we have to support it, we must also do our utmost to ensure that this activity succeeds as a last resort.

Question 5
Venant Vudisa / RTNC: Mr. Felix Basse, it is curious anyway. If it's not Beni, it's Butembo. If it is not Butembo, Beni is the scene of the clashes. However, it is in this region that the security of both the United Nations and our Congolese Armed Forces is heavily reinforced. So what would be the basis of this kind of situation?
So it seems to me that there is a discovery of a cache of weapons in the farm belonging to the former General Laurent Nkunda Batware. What is it? Is there any information on that?
MONUSCO [Félix Prosper Basse] spokesperson: Yes, I will start with the second part of your question concerning the discovery of weapons cache in the residence of former General Laurent Nkunda. I must confess humbly that this is the first time I hear this information.
Now, you asked a question that is fundamental: how with the strengthening or rather significant presence of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but also the MONUSCO peacekeepers deployed in that area, How is it that these attacks continue, or are they being observed all the time?
You know, I'm going to tell you that security is everyone's business. It's not just the FARDC affair, let alone the MONUSCO affair. World: the affair of
Journalists that you are, the affair of the populations, because it must not be forgotten that within all this dynamics, or at least of all this war that we observe in the east, there are also Internal complicities. That is why we have always appealed to the people so that they can support us, because without them nothing can be done. That's the first thing.
The second thing is the asymmetrical nature of this war. Because these are not classically organized forces that would fight on the ground. Because we saw this classic organization with the M23, and that's why the defeat of the M23 was much faster, much easier to achieve. Today, it is a few elements organized in small groups that circulate in the forest of the territory of Beni-Butembo.
Because I always repeat it here. And again, I pay tribute again to all the Congolese soldiers who lost their lives, precisely to secure this part of the Congolese territory, by exploding the ADF rebel group that we know, which is the most harmful in this region - the; And capturing all the camps, or at least the bases that were fundamental to the ADF fighters. [These soldiers of the] FARDC, they succeeded with the support of MONUSCO, to regain them.
Now it is the small groups of two, three, four or five broken elements that are in nature. Tracking is not easy given the terrain, given the vegetation, given the difficulties in acquiring information from the civilian populations, so that we can act in real time.
Many mechanisms, many initiatives have been implemented, have in any case been taken by the Congolese authorities, notably by splitting this operational area which was quite large, cutting it in two on a demarcation line that goes from Mbau In Kamango, but also by appointing two operational commandments that are distinct so that people can define an area within which tracking can be done much more efficiently. And that's what everybody is doing every day, it's not easy. Much has been done, much remains to be done.
But this can only be done effectively and with the help of everyone, the contribution of the Congolese people, but also the contribution of journalists, the media, community radio stations that must continue Raising awareness among the populations so that together we can defeat the ADF and any other armed group that is trying the territory of Beni.

Question 6
N'Kiere May / Congolese Press Agency: Mrs. Florence Marchal, if it is necessary to preserve peace here in the DRC and possibly organize the elections before 2018, do not you think that UNDP and the partners of the DRC can reinforce and double Their contribution, so that we can organize the elections eventually in 2017, since the CENI precisely poses the problem of logistics, the problem of equipment?

Are you not able to double your bet?

Coordinator of the United Nations Communications Group [Florence Marchal]: As you know, the United Nations support for the revision of the electoral register - and we are talking about the revision of the electoral roll - is clearly defined in resolution 2277 Of the Security Council, which mandates MONUSCO for logistical support, and as I have already explained to you on several occasions, this logistical support is expressed through the airlift of electoral material from Kinshasa to Provinces.
Second, with regard to financing, MONUSCO has established a provisional budget for these activities.
There is another component, you are right, which is the technical assistance component, which is normally taken care of by the partners of the CENI and implemented by the UNDP.
This project, the "PACEC" project, I imagine that this is the one you are referring to, today has not received all the expected funding. The reason why the expected funding has not been received is because the international partners, the donors, since this "PACEC" project is not only a United Nations project, it is A project of the international community, which requested UNDP to take charge of the management of this project.
These partners have set conditions for financing this project, and among the conditions is that of the establishment, the publication of a precise timetable of electoral sequences. And in the absence of the precise publication of this calendar, partners to date, have not put the money on the table.
So they laid down conditions. For the moment, the conditions are not fulfilled. And that's why the project is not funded as much as it should be.
But that does not prevent MONUSCO, since we had it in our mandate, to send the equipment. All the equipment: recording kits, office kits, generators, cards. All this equipment that will make it possible to operate the registration centers, that we take charge of it and we are about half of our mission in this field.

Question 7
Benoît Kambere Lusumba / Emergence & Echoes of the Great Lakes Region: I would like to come back to our colleague's question just now. It was said here last week that there has been an increase in the strength of MONUSCO forces, including the police, to monitor, to ensure that human rights are respected.
We also know that the MONUSCO police provide support to the Congolese National Police. How can the Congolese National Police continue to use lethal weapons?
Earlier, we talked about nineteen dead, as if it were random. Already a dead man is one too many. What is MONUSCO doing to stop these deaths?
And to Mr. Jose Maria Aranaz, it would seem that he was at the home of Mr. Franck Diongo when he was arrested. What actually happened, and what caused Mr. Franck Diongo to be arrested?
Director of the Joint United Nations Office for Human Rights [Jose maria Aranaz]: I really agree with you, a dead man, is one death too many. And it is a constant plea to the authorities to eradicate the presence of armaments of war, lethal weapons in the management of demonstrations and public order, and we will continue to advocate.
This is very important, because we have checked the numbers that I mentioned before, but we are also allocating the responsibilities. Who is responsible for these killings?
As I said, among the perpetrators of the violations of human rights that were mentioned, was the PNC of course. But, it has even been applauded that the PNC was improving much in the deployment of non-lethal material for the management of the demonstrations.
We said that in July, we said that in October and we said that in November.
For the dead of the day yesterday, we are conducting investigations. But it was also mentioned among the perpetrators of human rights violations, not only the PNC, but also the Republican Guard, the Military Police, and also with regard to arbitrary arrests, the ANR and the PNC also A responsibility.
But all this will be part of the report that we will share with the authorities. It is believed that the new government will provide an opportunity to begin a new dialogue in the way of human rights. It will be a very good opportunity for the new government to demonstrate its genuine commitment to human rights and to bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice.
This is a request that has been submitted to the authorities for a long time. There must be an end to the culture of impunity for violations of human rights by state agents. We must introduce a genuine political will to have zero tolerance for human rights violations, especially at the higher level.
MONUSCO [Félix Prosper Basse] spokesman: I would simply like to say that we have indeed been given a mandate through Resolution 2277 given to us by the Security Council to carry out the training of police officers National so as to enable them to carry out what is called, in a very general way, the maintenance and restoration of order.
In the course of our various press conferences here, I think that we have shared with you all the different trainings that have been given to the agents of the Congolese National Police. I still come to read it when I read it .
So it is to say that certain modules linked to the democratic management of the crowds, but also modules relating to respect for human rights, are repeatedly given to the Congolese defense and security forces.
So we have always advocated the non-use of lethal weapons. Because the maintenance of order, crowd control is not done with lethal weapons. And I think very well that in the first elections
Here a lot of equipment, a lot of training, a lot of training has been given to the Congolese defense and security forces for the non-use of lethal weapons.
Obviously, there is also a fundamental issue. We are not at the side of the Congolese National Police when they are deployed in the city of Kinshasa.
So I think this question should be put directly to the Congolese National Police by saying, but why are you using lethal weapons? Instead of telling MONUSCO why are Congolese policemen using lethal weapons?
So that's what I can answer. And that is why, as my colleague Jose Maria Aranaz has said, we continue, we continue our efforts by denouncing, documenting and telling everyone that those who have had to make use of Lethal weapons, in any case which have killed Congolese, will have to answer them sooner or later in the appropriate jurisdictions.

Question 8
Cosmas Mungazi / Eastern Torch (Goma): My question is for the spokesman for MONUSCO. I am going to start from a principle of law which says that international texts and agreements take precedence over national laws.
Today, we observed that MONUSCO no longer behaves. If the national authority accepts something, MONUSCO also follows suit. The President accepted the first dialogue, the second dialogue. I would simply like to know where the international texts that emanate from resolution 2277 are.
MONUSCO [Félix Prosper Basse] spokesperson: Yes, I do not agree with your statement, which implies that MONUSCO is behind the Congolese authorities. I believe that we must respect both the institutions of the republic and certain international organizations that are there to help a little comfort the Congolese people who need it so much.
So you are quite right to say that international texts prevail over national texts. This is a rule of international law which is widely shared. But what I do not understand is that you make an amalgam between the dialogue or the second dialogue. Once again, I repeat, the repetition is pedagogical, but I want to say it once and for all, at the end of 2016, which nevertheless saw our exchanges improve and be more and more fruitful For the benefit of the Congolese people, I would like to reaffirm strongly that the fate of the Congolese is in the hands of the Congolese.
You have to be very clear on that. MONUSCO supports and supports the initiatives that have been taken by the authorities of this country, as we have come to this country also following the invitation of a member of the UN family in difficulty and we are here to help alleviate The suffering of the civilian population.
But the destiny of the Congolese once again is in the hands of the Congolese, not in the hands of MONUSCO. It will be necessary to come to this evidence to understand that all that comes in addition is only a contribution, is only a contribution, a participation of the United Nations to the collective effort of the Congolese.
But Congo is a sovereign country. It should not be forgotten either. We respect that sovereignty. But to respect this sovereignty does not mean to be in tow with the authorities of this country. No I'm sorry, I do not share that view.
But we continue the dialogue, we continue to talk with the authorities, we also continue to express our views on what is going on, what is wrong, because there are also things that are going well.
So that's what I can say on this issue. But no, we are not in tow for anyone. We have a mandate given to us by the Security Council, which remains and remains our sole boss.

Question 9
Esaïe Ngungu / Radio Sauti ya Injili (Goma): I would like to know what is blocking the Intervention Brigade? Because we were present when this brigade entered the Congo, and it had been really applauded by the population, hoping that it had come to eradicate and sweep away all the negative forces based in the forest of the east of the Republic Democratic Republic of the Congo. I would like to know: what is blocking it?
Acting military spokesperson for MONUSCO [Capitaine Yassine Kasim]: [Capitaine Yassine Kasim]: I will just repeat what the MONUSCO spokesman said. It is an asymmetrical war. The mode of operation of this war is not that of a classical force against another classical force.
These elements are scattered in the jungle, the jungle is very dense. Even with this force, even with the periodic operations that are carried out every week, we still need some time to eradicate and eliminate all these negative elements in the region.
Spokesperson for MONUSCO [Félix Prosper Basse]: I will just complete by going back to what you said at the beginning of your question. You are right to say that we all witnessed the initial deployment of the Intervention Brigade here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following the adoption of resolution 2098 which mandated MONUSCO to neutralize the armed groups by using force .
This is a novelty of course in the United Nations system, at least in peacekeeping operations, to have peacekeepers who are authorized to wage war to neutralize armed groups.
But also, we have to be honest. Because when this Intervention Brigade began its initial deployment, there was first talk of deploying the South Africans, then the Tanzanians. The Malawians came a little later, because they had to be transferred from the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire where they were deployed.
So it took time for the Intervention Brigade to be fully implemented and operational. That's a factor.
But we also recalled that the Intervention Brigade was not the panacea. It means precisely that the management of expectations was a condition we had taken into account, right from the start, telling you that the Intervention Brigade alone could not do anything.
The Intervention Brigade came to work with the Congolese defense and security forces, but also, with the Congolese people, because they were deployed in a new environment, it was necessary to adapt.
But all in all, with all the activities that were carried out by the Intervention Brigade, the most striking action of which was to support the FARDC, to neutralize the M23, which, as you know, was a Established force, which has proved sufficiently its capacity of nuisance, because it has captured Goma, it must not be forgotten.
And it was with the Intervention Brigade, but thanks to the valor, courage and professionalism of Congolese soldiers that we managed to dismiss the M23.
Beyond the M23, many other armed groups have been significantly weakened, when I take the territory of Masisi, you remember, on the axis from Kashebere, Mpofi to the territory of Walikale, but this axis was Controlled at all times by the Mayi-Mayi.
I give the example of Pinga, where Cheka made the law, we cleared it from there. I take Mount Sinai where APCLS had its headquarters, the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo of January Kariri, it was cleared by the units of the Intervention Brigade, the Malawians in particular, in support of the FARDC.
I can quote others. As I said, much has been done, much remains to be done. But the Intervention Brigade is not blocked. The evidence, she supported the FARDC again on 16 December [2016] in the Eringeti region to counter the ADF which had launched another attack on the Garlic and Nadui camp.
We continue to work with our Congolese brothers to secure the populations. It's a long-term job. I do not know if you really understand what it is to make war. But here we have no opportunity to develop tactical courses, etc., but I can tell you one thing, it is not an easy thing, especially in a terrain, an environment like that of the Democratic Republic Of the Congo, whose geographical dimension is besides at the continental limit. It must be recognized that this is not easy, there are a multitude of different armed groups, which are born and disappear every day.
But we must recognize the efforts made by the FARDC and which lead to certain surrenders, to the conquest of certain strengths of the armed groups, I think that we must also respect the conscience of soldiers who died, but also the awareness of Helmets Who lost their lives in these operations. We lost one at Butembo, we have two wounded.
So I think we have to be fair and be able to pose the problem objectively.

Question 10
Aubin Kandembi / Prosperity: My question is for Mr. Jose Maria Aranaz and the spokesman for MONUSCO. We are just a few days away from the New Year, what assessment can MONUSCO make today on the socio-political Congolese? This year, did we advance or retreat? If there has been progress or not, and in your answers you find weaknesses and strengths on both sides, what message could you send today to the Congolese political agora, Try to convince the population and the political actors to avoid the evils and tensions?
MONUSCO [Felix Prosper Basse] spokesperson: I do not know if we have material time to make an assessment, but what I want to propose to you is that if you need an exhaustive review, The outcome of this press conference, I can grant you this interview.
Now, what we can simply say is that we should not throw the baby out with the bath water, because it would not be very honest for all of us to say that nothing Has been done, nothing has changed for 15 years. I am sorry to tell you, as I repeat enough, much has been done, much remains to be done. And in order for us to continue in this positive direction, particularly with regard to the security situation, concerning the political situation, concerning the social and even the humanitarian situation, I believe that with the Congolese authorities, with the Congolese people, All of us can eradicate all these armed groups operating in the east of the country. Because the will is there, the means are implemented, because it is that people do not understand is that many soldiers on the ground do not sleep.
It is not obvious but every day, night and day, patrols are carried out and have a dissuasive effect. The presence of the FARDC and their efforts to protect the population must be considered rightly. From my point of view, hope is permitted, in order to move towards a much more brilliant future for the Congolese people, because ultimately they are the ones we are interested in. Yes, Jose Maria if you have anything?
Director of the Joint United Nations Office for Human Rights [Jose Maria Aranaz]: Yes, as you said, I do not think we have enough time to make a full assessment and I Not also the moment.
On the side of the Joint United Nations Office on Human Rights, we will take stock of the year at the first press conference in January 2017. We will present a full report. But I can tell you that with regard to the provisional record of respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, as I say at the press conference, there was a dramatic increase of 300% in violations Of human rights figures that relate to democratic space.
This means that the restriction of democratic space and fundamental freedoms is real, and we have expressed our concern about this. We took this opportunity to advocate with the authorities, the new government and also those who participate in the CENCO dialogue, to make every effort to open the democratic space, to change the trend, because everything In talking about fundamental rights and freedoms and democratic space, has a lot of direct relationship with measures of decrimination.
So if we want to create the right climate for calm and credible elections, for dialogue, we must open the democratic space, we must change the trend, we must reduce the number of violations of human rights and freedoms Fundamentals.

Question 11
Flavien Musans / Planète TV: Mr. MONUSCO spokesperson, I return to the report of the UN Joint Office on Human Rights, which points the finger at the Congolese National Police. I would now like to know the response of the United Nations police to this situation.
Spokesman of MONUSCO [Félix Prosper Basse]: I think that Jose Maria Aranaz, you are questioned on this issue.
Director of the Joint United Nations Office for Human Rights [Jose Maria Aranaz]: I did not just talk about the Congolese National Police, I spoke about the police, especially about arbitrary arrests, I also spoke about the ANR, the Republican Guard, and also the military police.
So we must be fair because the perpetrators are not only the PNC, even in terms of the excessive use of force, we believe that the police made a great progress especially since October with The use of non-lethal equipment, and these are the other bodies that I mentioned, such as the Republican Guard, the FARDC and the Military Police, which are deployed with the armament of war for the management of demonstrations or the question of the " And this is what has been found to be completely inappropriate.

Spokesman of MONUSCO [Felix Prosper Bass]: Thank you. End of this press conference, Happy New Year, Happy Christmas, next year.

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