The UN is considering reducing the peacekeeping force MONUSCO in the Congo and outlining a withdrawal plan, according to a UN representative.
After the December presidential election, which ended with the resignation of President Joseph Kabila, as well as improved security in the country, plans for the UN force in Congo may change, an anonymous UN representative told AFP.
– We are looking at a gravis process to lessen MONUSCO – probably scaling it down. We have to work with the Congolese on the strategy for a complete withdrawal, said the UN representative.
President Kabila has previously asked the UN to withdraw the peacekeeping force, while the new president, Felix Tshisekedi, has said the forces should be “better armed” and offered to work with the United Nations on the next steps in the process.
MONUSCO is the UN’s largest and most expensive peacekeeping force, with a budget of over $ 1 billion. The UN Security Council must decide later this month for whether to extend the mandate.
UN diplomats have said that the mandate should be extended by seven months, allowing time to start negotiations on the future of the force.
The United States considers cuts
The discussion around MONUSCO comes after the United States, the UN’s largest financial contributor, considered reducing its monetary contribution to UN peace operations.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton said in December that the United States will seek to liquidate long-term peacekeeping UN missions that do not lead to long-term peace.
The UN has had peacekeeping forces in Congo since 1999. The force currently consists of about 16,000 soldiers. In the last couple of years, new turmoil in the country has been triggered by Kabila refusing to resign when his mandate expired in 2016 after 18 years. In January, Tshisekedi was taken as a new president.