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Embattled UN mission calls for more troops

Latest update : 2008-10-04

The United Nations' top official in the Democratic Republic of Congo, special envoy Alan Doss, asked the UN Security Council on Friday for extra troops to help halt the spread of violence in the country's eastern provinces.

 

The United Nations' top official in the Democratic Republic of Congo asked the U.N. Security Council on Friday for extra troops to help halt the spread of violence in the country's eastern provinces.

 

U.N. special envoy Alan Doss told reporters he made the request during a closed-door briefing to the Security Council.

 

He also told the 15-nation council of his "deep concern" about the renewal of hostilities that began late last month in North Kivu and northern South Kivu.

 

He did not say how many additional troops he wanted. There are 17,000 already on the ground, the largest U.N. peacekeeping mission in the world.

 

Doss acknowledged that the U.N. peacekeeping budget and countries providing troops were stretched to the limit and it would take time for any further troops to arrive.

 

He also asked the council for reconnaissance drones to get real-time information on the movements of rebels.

 

The U.N. mission in Congo, known as MONUC, has been pushing a plan to try to get rebel groups in the east to accept a cease-fire, demobilize and integrate their fighters into the country's regular armed forces.

 

"We believe we need to go ahead as rapidly as possible with the disengagement plan to reduce the risk of those hostilities spreading and spilling over," Doss said.

 

It would also require vigorous MONUC operations against active rebel groups.

 

But he was worried that Congolese Tutsi rebel chief Laurent Nkunda appeared to have reversed an earlier promise to consider taking part in the disengagement plan.

 

Nkunda on Thursday told the BBC and Radio France International that a peace process based on an agreement signed in January with the Kinshasa government was over.

 

A spokesman for Nkunda clarified the remarks on Friday, saying he had no immediate plans to move beyond North Kivu.

 

Doss said Nkunda's statements were "very troubling" and indicated he was turning his back on "any effort to move the peace process forward and that is not acceptable."

 

He said the comments also implied that Nkunda may want to reverse the results of the U.N.-supervised 2006 election, which put President Joseph Kabila in power in Congo, a former Belgian colony that is still recovering from a 1998-2003 war.

 

Nkunda has led a rebellion in North Kivu since 2004. He says his Tutsi community is threatened by Rwandan Hutu rebels he says are backed by the Congolese army and who are accused of involvement in Rwanda's 1994 genocide killings of Tutsis.

Date created : 2008-10-04

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