U.N. to Pull 2,000 Peacekeepers From Congo, Draft Resolution Says

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
Published: May 27, 2010

NAIROBI, Kenya — After a long and tense debate with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations has decided to withdraw 2,000 peacekeepers, far fewer than Congolese officials wanted, according to a draft resolution.

Congo is still haunted by countless armed groups, and a new rebellion recently erupted in the middle of the country. But the Congolese government has been demanding that the United Nations reduce its 20,000-plus peacekeeping force because Congolese officials see the United Nations presence as a violation of their sovereignty.

The draft resolution, which is scheduled to be approved in a few days, also changes the name of the Congo mission, a move analysts say is intended to appease the government and reflect that the peacekeepers are there to support, not usurp, the national army’s security duties. A United Nations official said the name change had not been finalized.

Congo’s army is widely known to be corrupt and ineffective, and has been accused of murder, rape and other human rights abuses against civilians. United Nations officials have tried to convince the Congolese government that without the peacekeepers the country’s stability would degenerate and that even the government itself could be in jeopardy.

According to the resolution, as many as 2,000 peacekeepers will be withdrawn by the end of June from “areas where the security situation permits.”

After that, troop levels will be determined by “the evolution of the situation on the ground” and by certain benchmarks, including strengthening the capacity of the Congolese Army and the government. Congolese officials had wanted all of the troops out by the end of 2011.

Since 1996, Congo has lurched from one crisis to the next, with neighboring nations and various armed groups fighting over the country’s rich trove of minerals. Ethnic and political grievances have also fueled the conflict.

Under the draft resolution, the name of the mission to Congo, now Monuc, would be changed to Monusco, an acronym for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

[original]

spotted by RS

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