Madam President,

I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ms Bintou Keita, and Ms Anny Modi for their presentations. I would also like to thank the Permanent Representative of Gabon for his presentation. I welcome the participation of the representatives of the States of the region. I welcome the participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Permanent Representative of Rwanda at this meeting.

The DRC is at a decisive crossroads in terms of ensuring lasting peace and security on its territory. To this end, Switzerland considers that three areas of effort will be a priority: guaranteeing a successful transition; deepening regional initiatives in favour of peace; and ensuring credible and peaceful elections.

First of all, we have heard the Congolese government's request to speed up the gradual withdrawal of MONUSCO. We take this seriously. It will be necessary to ensure a responsible, phased and sustainable withdrawal, while insisting on the importance of respect for international humanitarian law and human rights by all parties. The withdrawal must be part of a partnership based on trust between the Congolese state and the United Nations, including the Security Council. A hasty departure of the peacekeepers could have harmful consequences for the thousands of internally displaced persons, particularly for women and girls, as we have heard. This is particularly true in regions where MONUSCO bases are the only bulwark, however weak, against violations and abuses by armed groups.

To ensure a successful transfer of the Mission's main responsibilities to the DRC, in particular the protection of civilians, the rule of law and the security sector must be strengthened. We thank the Secretary-General for his report outlining MONUSCO's adaptation options. On this basis, we encourage the DRC to intensify its cooperation with the Mission to strengthen the capacities of the Armed Forces and the National Police.

Secondly, the role of the region in the search for peaceful solutions remains central. This is key to guaranteeing a political space to ease regional tensions and address insecurity. The support of the East African Community has helped to deter certain operations by armed groups such as the M23. The Secretary-General's report sets out MONUSCO's adaptation options, and, on this basis, we encourage the DRC to step up its cooperation with the Mission to build the capacity of the Armed Forces and the National Police.

All regional military efforts must be part of political processes aimed at consolidating peace in the DRC. They must be conducted in accordance with the objectives and principles of the United Nations and international law. Switzerland reiterates its support for regional political and diplomatic initiatives and we call on all actors, in particular the DRC and Rwanda, to honor their commitments, to establish a sincere dialogue and to cease their support for armed groups.

Thirdly, in the run-up to the elections, the Congolese authorities must redouble their efforts to guarantee an open and pluralist civic space. This means ensuring credible results and an inclusive and transparent process, as President Tshisekedi said at the UN General Assembly last week. We welcome the commitment of the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante to register voters. However, we deplore reports of a reduction in civic space and allegations of arbitrary detentions of journalists, human rights defenders and members of opposition parties.

Finally, the violence committed during the recent demonstrations in Goma is unacceptable. We welcome the measures put in place to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice and encourage the authorities to conduct credible and transparent investigations.

Madam President,

Before concluding, allow me to reiterate Switzerland's concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the DRC. We therefore support the intensification of the international humanitarian response and have mobilised additional funds. Switzerland has a long-standing presence in the country, both in Kinshasa and in the east. It stands ready to support the transition, particularly in the area of protecting civilians.

I thank you.

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