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UN Mission Looking Forward to Full Cooperation with DRC Army

FILE - MONUSCO Force Commander General Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz at the ambush site, Beni territory, eastern Congo, May, 2015. (Nicholas Long/VOA)

The U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO, said it is looking forward to a full resumption of strategic cooperation with the Congolese army. The new head of MONUSCO is to arrive soon.

The U.N. mission in Congo put a temporary halt to its collaboration with the Congolese army, the FARDC, in February, after two generals suspected of human rights abuses were placed in charge of what was supposed to have been a joint FARDC-U.N. operation against FDLR rebels.

Citing U.N. human rights policy, the mission withdrew support for that operation, although it has continued supporting the army against other armed groups.
Saturday, DRC communications minister Lambert Mende said the government is waiting to resume talks with the new head of MONUSCO, Maman Sidikou, after what he described as "certain difficulties" encountered with Martin Kobler, Sidikou’s predecessor.

Kobler had been at odds with the authorities over the army’s human rights record, freedom of expression and preparations for elections.

Mende also said the government hoped the new MONUSCO chief would "listen" more to the government’s concerns, adding there might be less of a "cultural communication" problem with Sidikou, who is from Niger.

MONUSCO interim spokesman Charles Bambara described Mende’s comment about strategic cooperation as encouraging.

“We have been asking for this [cooperation] for some time and it is going in the right direction. We are working to make sure all misunderstandings are cleared up so that this cooperation can resume as soon as possible,” he said.

The human rights concerns that forced MONUSCO to pause cooperation can be resolved, Bambara suggested.

The mission will continue to apply the U.N. due diligence policy on human rights, he added.

“The U.N. has some principles, and the principles will not change because of a change in the persons who are implementing them,” he said.

Bambara also said the mission is trying to push the electoral process in DRC and calling for the government to allocate necessary funds to the independent electoral commission.