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UN Security Council extends Assistance Mission in Somalia, DR Congo

By Joyce Namutebi

Added 28th March 2018 04:38 PM

According to the resolution, the Council welcomed the federal Government of Somalia’s development of a Transition Plan with clear target dates, geographical priorities and the operational readiness assessment, with a view to conducting a conditions‑based, gradual handover of security from AMISOM to the Somali security forces

UN Security Council extends Assistance Mission in Somalia, DR Congo

AMISOM forces on duty. Photo/File

According to the resolution, the Council welcomed the federal Government of Somalia’s development of a Transition Plan with clear target dates, geographical priorities and the operational readiness assessment, with a view to conducting a conditions‑based, gradual handover of security from AMISOM to the Somali security forces

The UN Security Council has extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until 31 March 2019.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2408 (2018), the Council underscored the importance of the Mission's support to the Somali government‑led political process as well as the importance of its support to the federal government of Somalia on preparations for the delivery of inclusive, credible and transparent elections, according to UN news posted  on Tuesday (March 27).

The Council requested continued support for the government's efforts to implement the country's National Strategy and Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in order to strengthen Somalia's capacity to prevent and counter terrorism.

Strongly condemning recent attacks by the terrorist group Al‑Shabaab, including on  October  14 2017 and February 23 2018, the Council expressed serious concern at the ongoing threat posed by the group, as well as the presence of affiliates linked to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da'esh) and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, and reiterated its determination to support efforts to reduce that threat.

According to the resolution, the Council welcomed the federal Government of Somalia's development of a Transition Plan with clear target dates, geographical priorities and the operational readiness assessment, with a view to conducting a conditions‑based, gradual handover of security from AMISOM to the Somali security forces, including conducting joint operations with AMISOM in order to become the primary security provider in Somalia, and calling for its swift finalization and implementation,

They welcomed the federal Government of Somalia and the international community's commitment to a comprehensive approach to security in Somalia, and recognizing the need for non‑military approaches as part of this approach in order to achieve long‑term human security for Somalis,

 According to the resolution, the council hailed the commitments of the federal Government of Somalia to one person, one vote elections in 2020/2021, the launch of the National Independent Electoral Commission strategic plan and the commitment to develop and approve an electoral law setting out the legislative framework by the end of 2018.

On DRC, the Security Council renewed the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), extending it until 31 March 2019 with a more focused mandate to help protect civilians and support implementation of the New Year's Eve political agreement, including preparations for elections later in 2018.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2409 (2018) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the 15‑member organ decided to maintain the Mission's authorized uniformed personnel ceiling at 16,215 troops, 391 police personnel and 1,050 personnel of formed police units.

Through the 18‑page text, the Council called on all stakeholders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including President Joseph Kabila Kabange, the presidential majority and the opposition to swiftly implement the Comprehensive and Inclusive Political Agreement signed in Kinshasa on 31 December 2016 in order to proceed without further delay to the preparation of elections on 23 December.

It called on the Government and its national partners, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, to ensure a safe, transparent and credible electoral process, and requested the Secretary‑General to provide political support to the implementation of the agreement, including through his good offices.

The Council also called on the Government to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms especially that of peaceful assembly, lift a blanket ban on demonstrations and exercise maximum restraint in responding to protests.  It reiterated the urgency of prompt and transparent investigations into violations of international humanitarian law and violations or abuses of human rights in the Kasaï region, the scene of violence over the past year.  It also demanded that all armed groups immediately cease all forms of violence, lay down arms and release children from their ranks.

Turning to the MONUSCO mandate, the Council said its tasks would include preventing, deterring and stopping all armed groups and local militias from inflicting violence on civilians as well as supporting and undertaking local mediation efforts to prevent escalation of violence.  Interactions with civilians would be enhanced to raise awareness and understanding of the MONUSCO mandate and activities, while its Intervention Brigade, under the direct command of the MONUSCO Force Commander, would be authorized to neutralize armed groups, in support of the Democratic Republic of the Congo authorities.

Regarding the implementation of the 31 December 2016 agreement and the electoral process, MONUSCO would, by the terms of the resolution, provide technical and political support, including through good offices and engagement with interlocutors across the political spectrum.  It would also provide technical assistance and logistical support for the electoral process, in coordination with the Congolese authorities, including dialogue with the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Following adoption of the text, several Council members emphasized that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was entering a critical phase in its history, and that credible elections would be key not only for the peace and stability of the country, but also that of the wider region.  They underscored the more focused character of the MONUSCO mandate, with some delegates emphasizing also the need to respect the country's sovereignty and independence.

They expressed concern at the illegal exploitation and trafficking of natural resources by armed groups among others, and the negative impact of armed conflict on protected natural areas.

They were further concerned over the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation that has left at least 13.1 million Congolese in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 7.7 million severely food insecure people, the very high number of internally displaced persons in the DRC which has more than doubled in the last year to more than 4.49 million.

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