Jean-Pierre Lacroix: “We discussed how to defuse tensions and achieve our objectives with the Congolese authorities”
The Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, was in Kinshasa on 28 and 29 July 2022 to meet with partners of the UN Mission in the DRC, including the Congolese authorities, following the violent anti-MONUSCO demonstrations that resulted in victims among UN peacekeepers and the Congolese population in North Kivu.
The head of the UN Peacekeeping Department was accompanied by the UN Police Commissioner, Louis Carrilho, and the military advisor, General Birame Diop.
Mr. Lacroix met with the presidents of the two chambers of the Congolese Parliament: Bahati Lukwebo of the Senate and Mboso Kodia of the National Assembly.
In this context of crisis, Jean-Pierre Lacroix and these senior Congolese officials discussed ways to defuse tensions, strengthen the partnership between MONUSCO and the Congolese government, and rebuild trust between actors to avoid similar incidents in the future.
"The path of peace and mutual support must be favored to achieve our common goal, which is the restoration of State authority," said the head of the UN Peacekeeping Department at the end of his meeting with Congolese authorities.
In order to avoid similar incidents in the future, Mr. Lacroix spoke of pooling efforts to achieve the common goal of neutralizing the enemy.
"It is important that we redouble our efforts in transparency, in liaison with the authorities, that everyone does their job. There is work to be done on our side, there is work to be done on the part of the Congolese authorities who recognize that we also communicate in a united and coordinated manner, that we fight with all our strength against hate messages, fake news and disinformation".
Mr. Lacroix also discussed with Congolese authorities the importance of supporting ongoing regional efforts, both within the framework of the East African community, the Nairobi process, and the efforts led by Angola.
He added that, more fundamentally, the restoration of confidence at the regional level requires deepening the dialogue between the authorities of different countries.
"All these efforts are reflected in the concrete realization of the measures that have been taken and decided upon, particularly with regard to the disarmament of armed groups, for which there is also the PDRRS-C program in Congo. The deployment of the regional force, the establishment and strengthening of security and verification mechanisms, as initiated at the meeting of Heads of State in Luanda," he insisted in an interview with the press.
Learning from the past
The head of the UN Peacekeeping Department also exchanged with the heads of UN agencies,funds and programs.
During this "One UN" meeting, he called for unity and solidarity. "It is important to learn from what has happened and ensure that we continue to work in the UN system in total unity," he said.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix recalled that the objective assigned to the UN Mission in the DRC is clear: the restoration of State authority throughout the national territory, which will allow MONUSCO to withdraw from the DRC.
"We hope that the conditions will be met and in particular the return of state authority so that Monusco can complete its mission as soon as possible and make way for other forms of international support”
Mr. Lacroix also had a tête-à-tête with the diplomatic corps accredited to the DRC. "This mission concerns us all. Some of your countries are contributors to the UN budget. I urge you to pool your efforts to combat hate speech. We count on our partners, both regional partners, but also all organizations that can support the efforts of appeasement to convey the necessary messages," he pleaded.
Finally, he offered his sympathies to the families of fallen peacekeepers and to the Congolese families who have suffered the loss of one of their own.