UN To Reduce Peacekeeper Number In DR Congo
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in a report released Tuesday, proposed reduction of the number of peacekeepers deployed under the UN Mission for Stabilization of Congo (MONUSCO).
The reduction of about 1,700 military personnel, the second in the last two years, will be possible without compromising MONUSCO’s mandate if progress is made in the fight against armed groups still active in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), the UN chief said in the report submitted to the UN Security Council.
With the reduction, Ban Ki-moon recommended that MONUSCO should focus more on policing the country’s presidential election set for November 2016.
The number of UN peacekeepers had already been reduced by 2,000 soldiers in March last year out of a total of 20,000 the mission had.
DR Congo authorities have been calling for a reduction of 6,000 troops under a strategy for progressive withdrawal of peacekeepers on the Congolese soil.
Ban Ki-moon’s proposal will be discussed next week in the Security Council which is expected to renew the mission’s mandate before it ends in March.
MONUSCO, which received a new commander last week, has been operating in DR Congo for the last 15 years with its key mission being to protect civilians.
Its military mandate was considerably reinforced in 2013, with the mission to neutralize different national and foreign armed groups that have been terrorizing residents of the eastern part of the country.