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Democratic Republic of Congo

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 24th February 2009.

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Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:30 pm, 24th February 2009

What recent reports he has received on the political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The DRC and its neighbours are co-operating constructively on regional security. The Government have begun work on areas such as security sector reform and development, and the national Parliament is increasingly effective in holding the Government to account. However, much work remains to be done to achieve the lasting progress that we all want to see.

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Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Opposition Whip (Commons)

In addition to looking at increasing UN troop numbers, which the Minister mentioned earlier, will she also look at the effectiveness of those troops, particularly given UN commander Bipin Rawat's comments that he can only get munitions delivered 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, not at the weekends, and that there is no capacity whatever for night flights?

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Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Of course, this is a matter for the UN, and we will discuss it there. The MONUC team is available to the DRC and Rwandan armies to help them with their military planning, and I would encourage them to make full use of that, because what we want to see is the MONUC troops carrying out the highest priority, which is civilian protection.

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Photo of Mary Creagh Mary Creagh Labour, Wakefield

Developing the justice sector is key to creating political stability in the DRC. We were all delighted to see the arrest of Laurent Nkunda, the warlord who ran CNDP criminals in north Kivu, over Christmas, but what conversations has my hon. Friend had with the Governments of Rwanda and the DRC to ensure that Laurent Nkunda returns to the DRC to face justice for the unspeakable acts committed by him and his troops?

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Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

My hon. Friend is right that justice not only has to be done, but has to be seen to be done, and matters such as those are raised regularly both directly with the Governments and through the UN and EU.

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Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Is it the view of Her Majesty's Government that 3,000 extra troops will be enough?

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Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

That is the estimate that has been made, and, indeed, the UK has supported the United Nations security resolution that brought about that extra reinforcement. What matters is that those reinforcements arrive as soon as possible, that they get on with the job that they are there to do, and that they assist the Rwandan and DRC Governments to protect civilians and to bring about a lasting peace. However, as I said earlier, that cannot be done only by military means. It has to be done through a political process. There has been progress, and we will continue to support that.

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