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Disarming DRC Rebels Up to Kobler & Commander, UN Upbeat on Katanga

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 14 -- With a stand-off brewing in Eastern Congo, and another simmering in Katanga, two days ago Inner City Press asked the UN about each. This morning the UN has answered, as set forth below.

From the UN's August 12 transcript:

Inner City Press: Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are reports of an uptick in violence in Katanga Province, which is not in the Kivus, but in which they say civilians are being killed. And so one, is MONUSCO [United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] doing anything on that? Whatís their response to that? And as to the Kivus, the M23 [23 March Movement] has said that they are sticking by what they agreed to in Kampala and they are not going to relinquish their positions near the Goma airport, and the spokesman for MONUSCO has said that they intend to expand the weaponless zone to include those positions. So the UN, do they still view what was agreed to at Kampala as a binding agreement or does this announcement by the MONUSCO spokesman supersede that?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, Iíll have to get back to you on that... Iíll have to find out, Matthew, I donít have any information with me.

  Forty six hours later, there's a response on each set of questions, the Kivus and Katanga, each of which we publish in full:

Subject: your questions on the DRC
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:43 AM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

On the security zone, the Framework and the Kampala talks:

As you are aware, MONUSCO has now established a security zone between Goma and Sake, and UN peacekeepers and Congolese security forces will continue their patrols and to ensure the area is free of unauthorized weapons. The objective of the security zone is to provide better protection to the over 1 million civilians, including internally displaced persons living in the area.

The expansion of the security zone, or its repetition in other areas of eastern DRC, are options among others that the Force Commander and the SRSG can consider in implementing the mandate given to MONUSCO by the Security Council.

These options are not considered in a vacuum; the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework provides the overall strategy to address the root causes of the conflict; the Kampala talks provide a key forum to resolve the M23 problem.

On violence in Katanga:

MONUSCO has noticed a slight decrease in incidents of violence in Katanga, in the last 3 to 4 months.

MONUSCO has about 350 peacekeepers in Katanga, a province the size of France. Most of its peacekeepers are in the areas of Manono and Kalemie.

On 3 July 2013 following a number of attacks against Moba town in Katanga, MONUSCO conducted a joint mission with the FARDC to the areas to assess the security situation.

MONUSCO is closely monitoring the situation.

  Beyond the UN's upbeat assessment of Katanga, not shared by at least some regional experts, what jumps out is that the "security zone" or 48 hour ultimatum to disarm can be  implemented, without any further checking, by SRSG Kobler and his Brazilian (or would that be Tanzanian?) force commander. Mary Robinson? Watch this site.


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