Pressure from all sides

DRC: President Félix Tshisekedi under pressure from the UN

By Jeune Afrique

Posted on October 21, 2021 13:27

Firefox_Screenshot_2021-10-20T12-09-33.959Z © DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi at the African Union City in October. DRC Presidency
DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi at the African Union City in October. DRC Presidency

Two years have passed since a summit on the framework agreement on peace, security and cooperation in the DRC and the Great Lakes region was held. The October 2019 and February 2020 editions did not take place due to organisational difficulties on the Congolese side, and the Covid-19 pandemic did not allow the authorities to keep their commitment for March 2020.

In September 2020, the meeting was once again postponed after Uganda pointed out to the DRC that the new date, which was set for a month later, coincided with a ministerial meeting of the African Union (AU), which is currently chaired by Kinshasa.

However, the matter has been back on President Felix Tshisekedi’s desk for the past three weeks. According to our information, the DRC president is planning to hold the summit in early December, but not everyone has agreed to this new date.

Clear refusal

China’s Huang Xia, the UN special envoy for the Great Lakes region, insists that preparations should get underway as soon as possible. In mid-September, he approached Tshisekedi directly. According to our information, the diplomat first suggested that he entrust the preparation of this meeting to Angola. In fact, Luanda is holding an extraordinary summit between countries of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in early November.

According to a UN source, “it is possible for several countries in the region to kill two birds with one stone by holding the summit on the framework agreement at the same time.” Burundi, in particular, would be willing to accept this arrangement.

Nevertheless, Tshisekedi is sticking to his guns and insists that the event should be held in his country. Xia advised him to make every effort to hold the summit on 24 February 2022, the ninth anniversary of the signing of the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement. However, the head of state has outrightly refused, saying he wants to hold it before it is time for him to hand over the AU chairmanship to Senegal.

A team of experts from the office of the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region visited Kinshasa in early October to take stock of the progress of the preparations, but to date, no team has been set up in Kinshasa. The organising committee – which was co-chaired by Marie Tumba Nzeza, then head of diplomacy, and François Beya, the president’s ‘Mr. Security’ – has not yet been reactivated. At the Congolese ministry of foreign affairs, several sources indicate that no initiative has been taken and that – to date – the notes verbales informing countries of the region about the summit’s new date have not yet been sent out.

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