Accessibility links

Breaking News

New Chief of UN Mission in Congo Promises to Strenghten Security Forces - 2003-07-07

The new head of the United Nations Mission in Congo, William Lacy Swing, has arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has visited the town of Bunia, where an international emergency reaction force has finished the deployment that it began last month.

William Lacy Swing, a former U.S. diplomat to the Congo, replaces Cameroonian diplomat Amos Namanga Ngongi.

The nomination of Mr. Swing, a State Department veteran, is seen by some analysts as a benefit for the U.S. government. They believe Washington likely will have more direct influence over the United Nations mission in Congo, which is already the world's most expensive, costing roughly $700 million a year.

Meanwhile, MONUC's mandate is up for renewal at the end of this month. While the mission has been criticized for its impotence in stemming violence in Congo, the recent deal between government and rebels to end the country's four-year civil war has been seen as a success for the diplomatic and U.N. community in Congo.

The country's wider peace deal is at the center of attention now, with the swearing in of the new government only days away. But Mr. Swing's first task was to fly to the war-ravaged town of Bunia, where a French-led international force has been deploying since last month to try to stop attacks on civilians by rival ethnic Hema and Lendu militias.

Mr. Swing promised that MONUC's presence in the town would be beefed up to as much as 3,800 troops, mainly from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Indonesia, when the French-led force's mandate ends in September.

The current strength of the French-led force has reached its full capacity of approximately 1,100 troops.