UN extends Congo troops mandate

U.N. Security Council voted to renew the mandate of peacekeepers in Congo by five months.

UN extends Congo troops mandate

The U.N. Security Council voted on Wednesday to renew the mandate of peacekeepers in Congo by five months instead of the usual year amid plans to reconsider its role in the turbulent country.

The extension, diplomats say, will give the United Nations time to prepare a plan to reconfigure the mandate of the force, known as MONUC, to focus more on training Congo's army and less on classic peacekeeping.

The text of the resolution, approved unanimously by the 15-nation council, extends the deployment of approximately 20,000 uniformed personnel, the biggest U.N. force in the world, until May 2010. But diplomats say it will be prolonged again after that.

They say the Security Council is under pressure from Congolese President Joseph Kabila to come up with an exit strategy for MONUC ahead of the 50th anniversary of Congo's independence from its former colonial master Belgium on June 30, 2010.

But the resolution said much needed to be done before a drawdown of MONUC could be considered "without triggering a relapse into instability." U.N. experts and human rights groups have alleged serious abuses by the Congolese army as well as rebel groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

More than 5 million people are thought to have died in mineral-rich Congo, many from hunger and disease, as a result of a 1998-2003 civil war and its aftermath. It was that war that led to MONUC being sent there 10 years ago.

Reuters

Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2009, 19:34
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