I just want to say that we are very satisfied to have a comprehensive discussion on the status of MONUC and the status of the situation in the DRC. We already had yesterday many talks and contacts with the special Representative Alan Doss, I also saw of course former President Obasanjo, who made a point on the situation of the attempts of mediation and tries to promote regional cooperation and to go back to the political process in the DRC.
At the same time, we are reinforcing MONUC so that it will be more efficient on the ground. We will be concentrating on the very difficult question of the protection of civilians. We think it is at the core of the mandate. It has to remain at the core of the mandate, and this will be the basis on which France will prepare the draft resolution on the renewal of the mandate of MONUC.
You know this is the most important goal and target for the next weeks. We are very encouraged by the relatively calm situation on the ground. We’ll concentrate on the humanitarian side of the crisis, address the needs of the people in the camps and on the roads, So this debate is really a corner stone on which we will build a new era for MONUC’s international presence in the Congo.
En français : nous sommes très satisfaits de la réunion qui va se tenir aujourd’hui, nous allons pouvoir avoir un échange de vues très approfondi avec notamment le représentant spécial Alan Doss, et avec Alain Le Roy. J’ai vu hier à plusieurs reprises le Président Obasanjo, nous voulons revenir aux processus politiques, aux processus de Goma et de Nairobi au Congo. Nous pensons aussi qu’il faut que l’on revoit la coopération régionale. De ce point de vue, ce que nous a dit le Président Obasanjo sur ses contacts aussi bien à Kigali qu’à Kinshasa, nous paraît extrêmement encourageant, et nous allons faire en sorte que le Conseil puisse renforcer le soutien qu’il apporte à M. Obasanjo.
En même temps, nous allons entamer les discussions, à l’initiative de la France, pour une nouvelle résolution sur le renouvellement du mandat de la MONUC, ce qui est une échéance extrêmement importante. Nous voulons renforcer la priorité accordée à la protection des civils. Nous avons eu hier une réunion sous la présidence du ministre belge des Affaires étrangères, réunion informelle dite ARIA, avec les représentants des ONG de terrain qui sont venues à New York. Ce qu’ils nous ont dit sur la situation des civils, sur les violences contre les femmes, sur les recrutements d’enfants-soldats, sur l’exploitation illégale des ressources naturelles du Congo, était extrêmement émouvant, extrêmement fort. Et nous voulons en tenir le plus grand compte lorsque nous redéfinirons les conditions dans lesquelles les Nations unies doivent intervenir, avec encore une fois, un mandat très concentré sur la protection des civils.
Que s’est-il passé lors de la réunion des pays contributeurs de troupes après la décision du gouvernement de la RDC de récuser les troupes indiennes ?
D’abord, la réunion vient de se terminer, donc on va en parler tous ensemble pour en tirer les conséquences. Je crois que le Président Kabila, et il faut respecter ce qu’il souhaite, a donné son avis sur la façon dont cela pouvait se passer. Je crois qu’un processus de dialogue va être entamé. C’est normal puisque nous intervenons avec bien sûr le soutien du gouvernement du Congo et jusqu’à présent, en appui des forces de la République démocratique du Condo, il faut tenir compte de son avis. Il faut aussi, écouter la version du secrétaire général des Nations unies, et voir dans quelle mesure nous pouvons le plus efficacement possible renforcer la MONUC et le plus rapidement possible.
Tous les éléments sont à prendre en compte, ce que vient de dire le Président Kabila a évidemment beaucoup d’importance. Dans le même temps il faut être réaliste, il faut être reconnaissant aux Etats contributeurs de troupes, je pense à l’Inde, au Pakistan, au Guatemala, à l’Afrique du Sud. Tous ces pays et ces soldats se sont comportés de manière admirable, pour l’instant ils ont évité le pire, et donc la discussion ne fait que commencer, nous allons voir.
How quickly will the additional troops will be able to get there and will the controversy over the Indian troops impact ?
It’s not a controversy once again, I said it in French. I mean it is very important to know the position of the government of the DRC. At the same time, it is important to start a dialogue, a full process of dialogue is starting this morning with the meeting of countries contributing to troops, and we have to pay tribute to the Pakistanis, the Indians, the soldiers from Guatemala, of South Africa. They have done their best to avoid the worst, they are the ones who are actually protecting the civilians on the ground. We have to reinforce that, the reinforcement should be efficient, and as expeditious as possible.
So we will have to see and there should be a comprehensive discussion between DPKO, President Kabila, and the troop-contributing countries to see, once again, what is the most efficient way of doing it. What President Kabila said is very important and of course, the Secretary General will have to take this into account, but the discussion is only starting.
So there is no time table ?
The first meeting was this morning, so we will see how we build on that.
Does France think that president Kabila should meet directly with Laurent Nkunda, to try to solve the problem ?
It is not up to us to say that. What was clear yesterday, of what Mr. Obasanjo said, that of course, some of the problems have to be addressed by Mr. Kabila directly, if only to be sure that the outcome and the solution is agreeable and feasable in the eyes of Kabila, who is the legitimate president of DRC. So it is very important for him to remain in control of the political process. If needed, I think yes, at one moment it certainly will be efficient but it is up to Mr. Kabila to decide when and how he wishes to enter into talks.
First of all, we ask Mr. Nkunda to stop the fighting and to respect his own commitments to a ceasefire. This is what is important today on the ground.
With this global financial crisis and people are not very familiar with Africa, can you explain why people should care and why they should be worried, and why what is happening in Congo is important, very simply ?
It is very important because every day, people are dying, because every day women are raped, because every day children are abducted and taken as soldiers or as hostages or as slaves by some of the rebel groups and we have to stop these violences. We think that the people of Congo, because precisely they have already suffered for many years, deserve peace and security as much as any other single citizen on this planet. And the fact that the financial crisis is there, which is of course one of the major challenges we have to face together, should not prevent us to address this question.
I heard you met with the humanitarian workers yesterday who were concerned about security on the ground now, before the troops can get there. Last week you talked about the possibility of some sort of military force : has anything changed with that ?
To be honest with you, what was very important yesterday, and what was very moving in my view was precisely the fact that all of those people, and among them many, who are very courageous, because they are on the ground there, in the middle of this crisis and we know what the violence are there for the women on the ground.
What they were addressing was not a complaint. They were not complaining, they were fighting, for the civilians of Congo. This is what was important, and they explained to us the extent to which the people were really struggling on the ground for food, for security, for medication, the children to be reunited with their parents.
And also it was very interesting, there was one NGO which insisted on this problem of economic disaster and the looting of natural resources. We also think it is a very important cause of the crisis, because of course, as long as some people find it is more convenient, and much more resourceful, and they get a lot of money through the looting of natural resources, they have no reason to join the peace process. So we have to stop the illicit trafficking of the natural resources of the Congo. So they explained all of this and it really gave us some food for thought for the next resolution and for the next mandate of the MONUC.
Some NGOs have been critical of a 9 billion dollars deal that president Kabila reached with China for the national resources development in the Congo.
I think that we should not confuse, whatever our judgements are, we should not confuse what the government is doing and what is illegal looting by armed groups or foreign companies which are exporting and trafficking without the consent of the population, and on the back of the population. Because you know very well that not only do they deprive the population of the resources, which are linked to those natural resources, but they are exploiting actually the population in the mines, where the people are working in terrible conditions. So it has to do with slavery in some cases, so it has nothing to do with the commercial contracts by a government.
The same NGO describes the national army controlling a mine in South Kivu…
This NGO explained it was true that all groups, and including some members of the national army, which is not exactly the same as the national army, but some local commanders as participating to this illegal trafficking. And we also said, and this is important that we insist on the fact that in our view, because of what is happening to the civilian population there, we think that the ICC should look very carefully into what is going on, and we think that the fight against impunity should also address some of those issues.