Good evening everyone. It is wonderful to be back in the DRC with my wife Daphne and my children Mitchell and Garner. I have many fond memories of my tenure here as Deputy Chief of Mission from 2001 to 2004. Almost ten years have passed since I last served here and a great deal has changed, but one thing that remains is a firm U.S. commitment to work closely with the DRC to address the security and development challenges facing this country and the region as a whole.
As I mentioned during my confirmation hearing before the Senate in July, there are several key issues that I would like to focus on during my time here in the DRC; in particular, peace and security, governance and institution building, and economic growth and development.
Clearly peace and security in eastern Congo is at the forefront of everyone’s agenda. The United States is committed to working with the Congolese government, MONUSCO and international partners to address the longstanding conflict in the region. We were, of course, pleased to see this week the tremendous success by the FARDC, supported by MONUSCO, in routing out M23 from their illegal occupation of Congolese territory. Ending M23 existence as a military force is a significant step towards fostering peace and security in this country, but as your government has said, there is still a lot of work to be done to address other armed groups and to reinstate State Authority in the region. As I am sure you are well aware, the United States and the international community have been involved at the highest levels to help address the root causes of instability in the east.The appointment this year and multiple visits of U.S. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Russ Feingold ,demonstrating our commitment to helping the region work out a sustainable solution to peace in the DRC.
A significant part of this objective includes the DRC’s expressed commitment to undertake security sector reform. The people of the Congo will not know safety and security until the country has a military capable of securing the territory and protecting the people. During my tenure here, I look forward to working with the DRC government to prioritize security sector reform, including in the army, police, and judiciary, as an integral part of combating the conflict in the East.
A second key issue the U.S. mission is focused on is support for improved Congolese governance and institution building. Only through effective and representative governance at the national, regional, and local levels can Congolese leaders truly speak for their people and make legitimate decisions to address the critical policy issues facing the country. The United States looks forward to supporting the democratic process in the DRC during future elections to ensure that the Congolese people are afforded a free and fair choice of their leaders, consistent with the Congolese constitution. Through USAID, we are working closely with the ministries of health and education and with the judiciary to build strong national institutions in these sectors. Our military attaches have been working closely with the Ministry of Defense and other partners to professionalize the Congolese military in a variety of areas.
Finally, we are focused on working with the DRC government and private sector to allow the Congolese people to realize their full economic potential. This includes working to develop the human capital of 70 million Congolese by improving their health and education and ameliorating the country’s infrastructure. USAID is a key partner in these endeavors, among many others. Additionally, by working with the DRC to increase transparency in public finances, decrease corruption, and expand the legal and licit trade of national resources, we hope to help boost private sector growth and encourage a stable, predictable and attractive investment climate.
I am delighted and honored to be back here in the DRC working with the Congolese to help you realize your potential. And with that, I am happy to take your questions.