UN chief proposes cutting DRCongo force


United Nations (United States) (AFP)

UN chief Antonio Guterres has proposed shrinking the large peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

After presidential elections in December that ended Joseph Kabila's rule and improved security, the 16,000-strong mission known as MONUSCO now can be reconfigured, UN officials have said.

Guterres suggested a reduction of about 2,000 people, in a report to the Security Council obtained by AFP Saturday.

The United Nations has been present in the DRC for about two decades. MONUSCO is one of its biggest, most expensive missions. Its annual budget is about $1.11 billion.

"I propose to reduce the current strength of MONUSCO uniformed personnel by 1,600 military personnel, 35 individual police officers and one formed police unit," the UN chief argued in his report.

"I also propose a 30 percent reduction in the number of military observers."

"However, should the Security Council deem it necessary to maintain MONUSCO at its current troops and police levels, it would be imperative that the commensurate resources be made available to enable the Mission to fulfill its mandated tasks," Guterres stressed.

Discussions on drawing down MONUSCO come as the United States, the number one financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, is seeking to reduce its share of the UN budget for peace operations.

US national security advisor John Bolton in December said the United States will seek to wind down long-running UN peacekeeping missions that do not bring long-term peace.