US pushes against DR Congo's call for UN forces withdrawal
The US Deputy Ambassador says UN forces should remain in DR Congo even after the government requested its withdrawal in December amid popular protests against its presence.
The United States has issued a warning against the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which the government has asked to take place after the country's elections in December.
"A precipitous withdrawal of MONUSCO would likely leave a security vacuum that state authorities are unable to fill," deputy ambassador Robert Wood stated on Monday, as he claims that such an action would lead to further armed group activity in the DRC.
The Ambassador's statements at a Security Council meeting come during a time when both state officials and protesters have called on UN forces to exit the country.
Locals have demonstrated against the forces for failing to end armed violence, amid violent protests against MONUSCO.
The US involvement in the country's internal affairs contradicts widespread anger regarding the role of UN forces in the country.
"As we have said many times, MONUSCO cannot –- and should not –- stay in the DRC indefinitely," Wood said.
"But there is broad consensus that the DRC government will have not met the benchmarks it agreed upon as the minimum conditions for MONUSCO’s drawdown by the end of 2023."
The Foreign Minsiter of Mali, Abdoulaye Diop, has also requested that the UN withdraw its forces "without delay" from the country as he denounced their failure to meet security challenges.
The UN is set to vote on withdrawing its forces late this week, as sources to AFP confirm that the decision is likely to pass.
MONUSCO has been a highly expensive mission for the United Nations. In 2020, the Security Council approved a plan outlining a gradual withdrawal from the DR of Congo and transferring the responsibilities of UN troops to Congolese forces. However, the Council later approved an extension of the mission.
Simultaneously, the Council requested Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to present options for the reconfiguration of MONUSCO in July.
Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, DR Congo's ambassador to the UN, stated on Monday that his government is engaged in constructive discussions with MONUSCO to define the transition plan. The aim is to focus on achieving key objectives that will establish minimal security conditions as a prerequisite for a successful withdrawal of the forces.