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DR Congo calls for UN Spokesman's exit

The Congolese govt has made clear it hopes to speed up the UN’s withdrawal from the country


The Democratic Republic of Congo has called for the spokesman of the UN peacekeeping force in the country to leave as soon as possible.

 

The foreign ministry accused Mathias Gillmann of making "indelicate and inopportune statements". Last week, the UN force, known as Monusco, became the focus of violent protests in eastern DR Congo. About 30 people, some reports have stated 36, including four UN peacekeepers and police personnel, died during the unrest. The demonstrators complained that the UN mission had failed to halt a resurgence of violence by rebels, more than two decades after it was first deployed.


Photo by Michael Lunanga | UN soldiers from the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (MONUSCO) take position at a looted warehouse at the UN facilities in Goma last week.

Specifically, Gillman is being blamed for stoking tensions that led to the deadly protests. The protesters vandalised and set fire to the mission’s buildings in several cities in the east of Congo. The Monusco mission, which has been active in Congo for more than 10 years, is accused of failing to protect them civilians from armed gang violence that has long disturbed the region.



The “indelicate and inappropriate” statements made by Gillman further contributed to the tensions between the population and MONUSCO. In a statement published by the Congolese government, it read:


"the Congolese government considers that the presence of this official on the national territory is not likely to promote a climate of mutual trust and calm between Congolese institutions and MONUSCO".

Gillmann and MONUSCO’s deputy spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the situation. The Congolese government also said this week that it would reassess the mission’s withdrawal plan in light of the protests, a decision which MONUSCO said it supported. The mission is due to withdraw by 2024 according to a plan drawn up last year but the government aims to speed up its departure, said foreign affairs minister Christophe Lutundula.


 

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