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20 Dec, 2023 09:39

UN ends peacekeeping mission in African state

DR Congo has demanded that UN troops leave because they have failed to defeat insurgents
UN ends peacekeeping mission in African state

The UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution on Tuesday outlining a gradual withdrawal of its peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The disengagement will take place in three phases over the course of 2024, according to the UN news service.

The UN stabilization mission, which has more than 12,000 troops in the Congolese city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, has been operating in the Central African state since 2010. Its main goal has been to protect civilians from armed groups and to support the government's efforts to combat insecurity in the east of the country.

MONUSCO, however, has been at the center of deadly protests over allegations of failure to carry out its mandate. Its soldiers have also been accused of brutally repressing protesters, with at least 43 people killed and several others injured in a recent incident, according to authorities.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi requested the "speedy" departure of the peacekeepers at the UN General Assembly in September, declaring that "it's time" for Kinshasa to "take full control of its destiny and become the main actor in its own stability." He claimed that troops deployed under the mission are incapable of reining in rebels, resolving armed conflicts, or protecting civilians.

On Tuesday, all members of the UNSC voted unanimously in favor of a resolution calling for the mission's "gradual, responsible, and sustainable" withdrawal from the DRC by December 20 of next year.

The drawdown will start by the end of 2023 amid the election cycle. The Force will be withdrawn from South Kivu by the end of April 2024 and the mandate’s implementation will be limited to provinces from May 2024,” the UN stated.

Meanwhile, polling stations opened in DR Congo on Wednesday for presidential and parliamentary elections, with the country's instability a key issue. President Tshisekedi, who is up for re-election against 18 other candidates, has accused neighboring Rwanda of funding the rebel groups responsible for destabilizing Kinshasa.

UN experts have consistently claimed the availability of “solid evidence” that Kigali is arming M23 militants, one of dozens of armed factions that have been active in Eastern Congo for decades, despite repeated denials from the Rwandan government.

The activities of the M23 group, which was launched in 2012 in the North Kivu province despite the presence of MONUSCO, have forced more than 800,000 people to flee their homes, according to the UN.