Wrapping up my backdated blogging of DRC events from earlier this year, I attended an interesting speech in January by Ambassador Roger Meece, the UN’s Special Representative for the DRC, at the Wilson Center. As the head of MONUSCO, and a key player in the international effort to support the 2006 elections in the DRC, Meece seemed to take a perhaps overly rosy view of the country’s stability in this public forum, but there were some good points raised regardless.
On the note of the MONUC –> MONUSCO shift, Meece pointed out that stabilization was initially a question of removing foreign armies during the war. The 2006 elections were seen as an exit strategy for MONUC in some quarters, but obviously questions of stability remain pressing. Today, whilst the necessity of economic development for stability is broadly accepted, he feels that peacekeepers remain uncomfortable talking about this. (Of course, economic growth is well outside MONUSCO’s mandate.)
Meece also felt that the 2006 elections are often given short shrift, saying that they “changed governance in the Congo permanently” through both the inculcation of democratic mores and the practical implications of creating new regional assemblies and granting some independence to parliament. That said, he curiously elided the topic of Kabila’s decidedly non-democratic constitutional tinkering, even after I asked him about it directly. (He responded with a reiteration of his belief [or hope] that Kabila is “committed” to the 2011 elections.) However, he also heard that a number of opposition leaders came to MONUSCO whilst he was out of the country and said that a single round of elections was acceptable, which he found quite surprising.