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Monday,October 21,2019 01:21 AM

UN quits Congo

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th June 2004 03:00 AM

BUKAVU, DR Congo, Sunday – THE United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo began evacuating staff from the capital Kinshasa on Sunday over security concerns, after a renegade general seized a key eastern town, sparking fears the country’s peace process was unrave

BUKAVU, DR Congo, Sunday – THE United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo began evacuating staff from the capital Kinshasa on Sunday over security concerns, after a renegade general seized a key eastern town, sparking fears the country’s peace process was unravelling.

The seizure of the town of Bukavu on June 2 by dissident general Laurent Nkunda triggered protests in Kinshasa and other cities against the UN peacekeeping force (MONUC), in which at least 12 people were officially reported to have died.

“This measure primarily concerns military observers whose vehicles and posts were ransacked and who have received threats, civilian workers whose equipment and offices were destroyed or pillaged and civil servants whose homes, particularly in Kinshasa, were pillaged,” the UN said in an internal document obtained by AFP.

The Bukavu violence, in which at least 88 people are thought to have died over the space of 10 days, took place in the presence of hundreds of UN troops, who are authorised to use force in self-defence and when the lives of civilians are threatened.

Protesters accused the UN of not blaming Rwanda for engineering the capture of Bukavu and of colluding with Rwandan troops, who they said had organised the seizure.

General Nkunda belongs to the Congolese Rally for Democracy, a former rebel group backed by Rwanda whose political leaders are now in the unity government which was created as part of the process to end the DRC’s 1998-2003 civil war.

He and his soldiers had joined the country’s theoretically integrated new army but dissented and fought regular army troops for a week to gain control of Bukavu.

Much of the mineral-rich eastern DRC was in rebel hands during the civil war and some factions are still loath to see power there pass to the central authorities.

The UN said the evacuation of staff from Kinshasa — who were ferried across the Congo river to Brazzaville, the nearby capital of the Republic of Congo — was a temporary measure taken because of the “serious damage” protesters had caused to UN property.

“(This) has led MONUC to provisionally review its presence and redeploy a part of its staff, which is no longer in a position to work,” its internal document said.
It said some of its employees would be sent to other UN missions.

Earlier on Sunday two UN peacekeepers from South Africa were killed in an ambush near the eastern city of Goma in which nine of their colleagues were wounded.
The UN’s spokeswoman in Goma, capital of Nord-Kivu province, said the ambush did not appear to be linked to the seizure of Bukavu, capital of neighbouring Sud-Kivu province.

Nkunda and his forces chased the army out of Bukavu on June 2, saying he wanted to rid the town of its “bad” military leadership and protect the Banyamulenge community — Congolese Tutsis of Rwandan origin — from “massacres”.

Ends

UN quits Congo

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