The degrading situation in Kivu directs the attention to the efficiency of the armed forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Yet, the on-going operations highlight the effort to restore State authority.
Three Security Challenges
Between 1996 and 2003, DRC has suffered a long instability era with a regime change and 6 years of war. Facing first a deliquescent then a painfully restored State, the army was reconstituted from scratch.
In addition, since 2008, this country is facing the violence of rebel militia active in Orientale, Northern and Southern Kivu, three provinces bordering Uganda,Rwanda and Burundi. Quiet often imported from abroad, those militia thrive on the looting of Congolese mining resources, the extortion of local populations and the trafficking across borders. Only a sustained and efficient bilateral cooperation can eliminate this threat.
Lastly, since the end of April 2012, the armed forces of DRC (FARDC) are challenged by a group of mutinous soldiers. Active in the Kivu region, they wage a local guerrilla. The FARDC have to bring this rebellion to an end in the respect of populations already badly affected. For the young Congolese army, this is a major test.
A Fundamental Mission
The situation in Kivu highlights indeed the necessity for the FARDC to be fully and exclusively acknowledged as the only legitimate force representing the State authority. The conduct of this fundamental mission is undertaken with much rigour, considering that this country has endured a damaging contestation of institutions in the past.
Vested with the democratic legitimacy of modern forces, the FARDC are fully developing all the dimensions of their mission. They are engaged in border surveillance, homeland security, population protection and territorial control. This last point is critical.
In accordance with article 52 of the Constitution of 2006, the FARDC intervene to restore territorial integrity and State authority in areas infested by militia and rebels. In this country as large asEurope, the full control of the national space is a condition to definitely ensure security.
Transformation under Process
This new security test arises while the FARDC have been undertaking a long process of modernization since 2006. Progresses are visible but there is still a long way to go. DRC wants indeed to achieve a forces transformation through better professionalization, improved equipment and maximum preparedness.
In this regard, the mutiny of rebel soldiers in Kivu emphasizes the difficulty of reintegrating former militiamen into a regular army. All the countries in post‑conflict environment experience this situation. The obedience to an exclusive hierarchical authority, the compliance to democratic principles and the respect of the Rule of Law take time.
The mutiny of rebel soldiers also emphasizes that DRC should continue to sustain efforts to improve human resource management. This is crucial to enforce discipline and make stronger the group cohesion. The effort is oriented in particular towards the quality of barracks accommodation, the evolution of statuses and the regularity of the remuneration paid to militaries.
In this new security test, the role of international partners is more significant than ever. Their contribution to modernizing the FARDC has been particularly effective and they continue to provide a necessary support.
First, the Monusco deploys in DRC more than 19,000 Blue Helmets, in military and police formats. The current mandate will end on 30 June 2012 and its action, as a complement to the FARDC, confirms the interest of the international community for stabilization inCongo.
Second, with EUSEC, the European Union is committed to sustaining an advisory and assistance mission for security reform. This support was first launched in 2005 and the current mandate runs until 30 September 2012.
Lastly, as the first partner of DRC in the EU,Belgiumprovides a substantial support, in particular regarding the education and training of Rapid Reaction Forces. This country also contributes significantly to the Stabilisation and Reconstruction Plan for Eastern Congo (STAREC).
The conditions for a sustainable stability in DRC are therefore in place. Therefore, the the challenge is now to demonstrate a new capacity.