The Democratic Republic of Congo has asked the U.N. Security Council to change the mandate of its peacekeeping mission to help solve the country’s ongoing battles with insurgents, a government official says.
“They have no mission of being deployed at the border between Congo and a foreign country. They should give them that mandate,” said Information Minister Lambert Mende.
“So I think that the mandate should change, in order to make MONUSCO [the U.N. mission] work more efficiently,” Mende said.
The U.N. Security Council authorized MONUSCO to use all necessary means to prevent violence against civilians, humanitarian and human rights workers as well as the U.N. personnel and facilities.
Mende said a change in MONUSCO’s mandate would not add any foreseeable cost because the number of peacekeeping troops would remain the same.
“What we have asked for is for the mandate of MONUSCO to change in order to give them more strength to protect, more efficiently, the civilian population that is endangered by the actions of Rwandese forces and their proxy groups, inside Eastern Congo,” Mende said.
“We are losing a lot of people and we need this idea of [an] international neutral force to be deployed in the border, [to] work as quickly as possible, and the only way to make it, is to use this international force already in the field that is MONUSCO,” he added.
Analysts say there is diplomatic tension between Kinshasa and Rwanda following accusations that the Kigali government has been supporting rebels fighting the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) in north Kivu province. But, Rwanda has rejected accusations that it is supporting rebels, including the M23 group.
Rwanda’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, told VOA that Kigali is cooperating with Kinshasa.
“One of the areas that Rwanda and Congo [have] worked very hard on after we normalized relations [is making] sure that we continue to talk - that our security and defense leaders meet often, talk often, work together, have joint operations in the region,” Mushikiwabo said.
Mende said the DRC’s top envoy as well as its permanent representative at the United Nations is working with officials at the world body to expedite a change of MONUSCO’s mandate. He said Kinshasa’s request for a change is supported by neighboring countries as well as the African Union.
“This idea is supported very strongly by SADC [Southern African Development Community] member states,” he said. “It is also supported by a majority of the members in the Great Lakes region and it has also got support from the African Union.”
Clottey interview with DRC Information minister Lambert Mende