The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) has to hurriedly fold up and leave Congolese soil, President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi informed the 78th session of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
Tshisekedi informed the session about the exit of Monusco, the security situation in the east of the country and the elections scheduled for December.
With the presentation of his government’s position about Monusco, Tshisekedi brings an end to the debate on the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping force which has been in his country for the past 25 years.
Three weeks ago, Christophe Lutundula, Congolese Minister of Foreign Affairs, contacted – via letter – the President of the United Nations Security Council to request the acceleration of the withdrawal of MONUSCO; Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi came to drive the point home which definitively puts an end to a possible extension of MONUSCO’s mandate on Congolese soil.
In his speech at the United Nations in the United States, Tshisekedi clearly indicated that after more than two decades of presence of the UN Mission in the DRC, it is time for the country to take “fully its destiny in hand” in order to become the main actor of its own stability.
“We are grateful for their support and partnership but we are also aware that the gradual withdrawal of MONUSCO is a necessary step to consolidate the progress we have already made . It is deplored that the peacekeeping missions deployed for 25 years in the Democratic Republic of Congo have failed to deal with the rebellions and armed conflicts that are tearing this country apart, nor the Great Lakes region, nor to protect civilian populations,” said Tshisekedi.
The DRC in search of new mechanisms for strategic collaboration with the UN
The President of the DRC openly believes that the plan for a staggered and responsible withdrawal of MONUSCO, announced since 2018 and for which the transition plan was voted in 2021, is becoming “anachronistic” in view of the evolution of political, security, current social.
“It is therefore illusory and counterproductive for UN to cling to the maintenance of Monusco to restore peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo and stabilize it. Furthermore, the acceleration of the withdrawal of MONUSCO becomes an imperative necessity to ease tensions between the latter and our fellow citizens,” he strongly insisted.
For him, it is now time for Kinshasa to explore new mechanisms for strategic collaboration with the United Nations, more in line with current realities.
“This is why, in my capacity as constitutional guarantor of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of my country, the good behavior of our nation as well as the well-being of our fellow citizens, I have instructed the government to begin discussions with the UN authorities to accelerate exit of MONUSCO from the Democratic Republic of Congo by reducing this gradual start from December 2024 to December 2023,” he concluded.
DRC-Monusco, a union which was already in trouble
Relations between the various Congolese governments and the UN Mission – established on Congolese soil for more than two decades – began to deteriorate during the last years of the mandate of the former President, Joseph Kabila. But it has intensified, with the Tshisekedi administration wanting at all costs to obtain its departure from December of this year.
For several years, the various Congolese governments have always criticized MONUSCO for the “inefficiency” of its actions carried out on the ground, thus completely missing its mission, which is mainly to pacify the country.
Between the return of M23 activism and the growth of several other armed groups, including the deployment of other Forces to pacify the East of the DRC, the fate of MONUSCO was already well sealed in advance.
As a reminder, at the beginning of September, Christophe Lutundula, Congolese Minister of Foreign Affairs, contacted the President of the United Nations Security Council to reiterate the option exercised by the government to accelerate and move forward at the end of 2023, the responsible and sustainable withdrawal of MONUSCO, by the Council in its resolution of March 27, 2018 and whose transition plan developed was adopted in its resolution of December 20, 2021.
A request which MONUSCO, via its director of political affairs, François Grignon, described as “opportune”, referring to a form of “rush” which would create a security vacuum after the “anticipated” departure of the UN Force.
“It would be criminal and counterproductive to continue to cling to the maintenance of this UN Mission […] Certainly, the withdrawal must not be rushed, but must neither be delayed, nor hindered by procrastination or false- fugitives,” indicated this communication from Christophe Lutundula’s office.