Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) say the withdrawal of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers from their country is planned within the next 6 months. The country’s Minister of Communication made the announcement in the capital Kinshasa. Many Congolese have been calling for the departure of the UN force for its perceived failure to protect civilians from armed groups in eastern DRC.
Minister for Communication Patrick Muyaya says their forces are working on a transition with the UN peacekeeping troops ahead of their planned withdrawal in the next 6 months. The decision was reached in a meeting between senior government officials and the UN’s Chief of Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
The UN Peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, has faced a lot of criticism for being unable to protect civilians against violence from armed groups. A series of protests against them broke out in eastern DRC last year. 36 people died including 4 peacekeepers. The recent backlash against the UN peacekeepers was triggered by the resurgence of the M23 rebels in eastern DRC in late 2021.
The head of the UN peacekeeping mission said the peacekeepers could not continue supporting the Congolese army to fight against the M23 because the rebels are better equipped. Congolese officials were outraged and called for their departure.
The UN force has been in eastern DRC since 1999. Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and South Africa are among the major troop contributors. The current mandate of the UN peacekeepers is set to expire in December this year. The withdrawal will be gradual in an effort to ensure no vacuum is left for rebels to exploit. -Reporting by Chris Ocamringa, SABC News Kinshasa.
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