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DRC Opposition to Indian Troops Draws Mixed Reaction

Residents of Democratic Republic of Congo's restive north Kivu province are sharply criticizing President Joseph Kabila's administration after opposing the presence of Indian peacekeepers there. The government in a letter to the United Nations Secretary general Thursday it accused the Indian peacekeepers of committing abuses. It adds that it strongly opposes additional Indian troops in the country as part of the United Nations Security Council surge proposal to enforce UN peace initiative. But some security experts condemn the government's move saying the absence of logistics from the Indian troops would worsen the military instability in the country. From the eastern DRC town of Bukavu, political analyst Shamave Miruho tells reporter Peter Clottey there has been mixed reaction among Congolese about the government's opposition to Indian troops.

"There are many people who like the Indians to go on acting in Congo because the United Nations Mission in the DRC, MONUC has done a lot of things, very positive things in the country. For example they helped us to conduct the election and they helped us stop Nkunda from taking control of some of the towns and one such as the recent fighting in Goma. So, for this many people think that well the UN forces are there generally and are doing a lot of great things. But on the other hand think that the problems are still there and have not been solved so far because Nkunda is there and thousands of people have lost their lives," Miruho said.

He said some Congolese are displeased with Indian troop who they describe as not been efficient.

"Very recently thousand of people were killed while they were near the UN camps and they didn't do anything. And that is the reason why people think that if more trips should be brought back to Congo, they shouldn't be Indian troops. They should bring troops from other countries maybe for more strength and to bring some new force to the mission because maybe the Indians have not been able to do what the population expected," he pointed out.

Miruho said some Congolese have been wondering why India is the only country that is supporting the UN mission there with logistical air support.

"The opinion of the common people on the street, and they have been asking some questions that is it only India who may avail logistical support to the UN? Is there any other country, which can intervene? For example in the European members who can intervene, but why don't they intervene? These are the questions that the common people are asking themselves?" Miruho asked.

He said there was need for President Kabila's to work more closely with the UN peace initiative in the country.

"I think the Congolese government should collaborate with the UN in order to see which other country will avail its logistics in order to come and help the Congolese government because a number of allegations were made against Indian troops. That they were involved in maybe sexual abuse and maybe in the traffic of minerals and so on although the results of the investigation has not been published. But you know the people and the government have the feeling that something has not been done in the right way," he noted.

The decision of President Kabila's government is expected to deeply embarrass the United Nations, which has about 44000 peace keeping troops in the DRC, all deployed in the restive north Kivu province. India by far has the largest contribution of soldiers to the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC). India has so far contributed the largest amount of troops of about 12000 that reinforces the United Nations mission in the DRC. It also provides all the helicopter gunship (air power) of the UN mission.