Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Congo / Peacekeeping

Congo's President Urges Peacekeepers to Leave
Associated Press dispatch in The Independent, April 6, 2010
"Congo's president called for the UN's 20,000-strong peacekeeping force to leave before September 2011 so the country can 'fly with its own wings,' but the UN secretary-general isn't signing off on a date, according to a report. Ban Ki-moon said he wants to ensure that military operations against rebels in eastern Congo are successfully completed, that well trained and equipped Congolese army units can take over the UN force's security role, and that the government extends its authority in areas freed from armed groups before the largest UN peacekeeping operation in the world departs. The secretary-general did recommend in the report to the Security Council that the withdrawal start immediately with up to 2,000 troops leaving peaceful areas of the central African nation by June 30, the 50th anniversary of Congo's independence. President Joseph Kabila initially wanted the UN force, known by its French acronym Monuc, out of Congo before the independence celebrations.
But following a visit to Kinshasa last month by UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy, where Mr. Kabila stressed 'that it was now time to allow the country "to fly with its own wings",' the government 'decided to be more flexible and shift that date to August 30, 2011,' the report said. ... Mr. Ban took note of Mr. Kabila's desire for all UN troops to be gone by September 2011, but didn't endorse it. An assessment team he sent to Congo recommended withdrawing the UN force over a period of three years if the security situation continued to improve and the government accomplished a series of 'critical tasks,' according to the report. The team concluded that 'a continued significant presence of the Monuc force was essential in the Kivus and Orientale provinces' in the volatile east, but not in the other eight provinces where the government could independently maintain law and order and protect civilians, the report said. [...]"

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