The Democratic Republic of Congo’s envoy to South Africa has welcomed a proposal by the U.N. Secretary General to extend the mandate of its mission in Congo for six months instead of a year.
Ambassador Bene M'Poko said Kinshasa is putting structures in place to protect its citizens after the mandate of the UN’s MONUC mission expires.
“It’s a good start in terms of thinking about the withdrawal of the MONUC troops from the DRC. A peacekeeping force cannot be there forever. They will have to gradually think about withdrawing. So by extending the mandate by six months, it gives us the time about the withdrawal strategy, which we have to discuss jointly with the United Nations,” he said.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon reportedly made the recommendation in a report to the Security Council Tuesday after a recent request by President Joseph Kabila seeking a MONUC “disengagement plan”.
The recommendation will extend MONUC’s mandate until June 30, 2010 after the U.N. holds negotiations with Kinshasa.
Analysts say remnants of various insurgency groups still attack villages quite often. The government recently signed agreements with some armed groups ensuring relative peace and a return of some of the internally displaced Congolese who were affected by rebel activities.
Ambassador M’Poko said the relative peace the country is enjoying makes it possible for MONUC’s withdrawal.
“The country has been returned to peace and stability. We don’t have an issue on national defense at this point. The issue we have now is an issue of public order, which requires more of a police type action rather than a military. So we need to continue to train our forces, and we are hoping that the international community will continue to assist us,” M’Poko said.