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Faith Nyasuguta

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Monusco, has initiated the withdrawal process after 25 years by transferring the Kamanyola base in the far east of the country to Congolese authorities. 

Established in 2005, the base played a crucial role in protecting civilians and maintaining security in the Eastern South Kivu Province. Monusco Chief Bintou Keita expressed optimism that this transfer would set a precedent for the mission’s overall disengagement.

This step marks an initial phase in Monusco’s withdrawal from South Kivu. Keita reaffirmed the commitment to collaborate with Congolese authorities for a responsible and orderly withdrawal. Monusco, with around 15,000 peacekeepers, has been operating in the challenging provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu, and Ituri.

The withdrawal plan, jointly established by the DRC and the UN, outlines a complete withdrawal of military and police components from South Kivu by April 30, with the civilian component following suit by June 30. 

/UN News/

In January, the DRC officially commenced the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers, aiming to conclude the process by the year’s end. Despite the UN’s concerns about violence in the eastern part of the country, the DRC government insisted on an accelerated withdrawal, considering the UN force ineffective in protecting civilians from armed groups and militias.

The UN Security Council, responding to Kinshasa’s demand, voted in December for a gradual pullout by the Monusco mission, which began its operation in 1999. The government’s perspective aligns with the belief that the UN force has failed to address the longstanding challenges posed by armed groups in the eastern DRC. 

Similar sentiments have been expressed by other African countries, like Mali, which also demanded the immediate departure of the UN mission in their region.

Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula and Monusco Chief Bintou Keita, during a press conference in the capital, emphasized their commitment to an “exemplary” withdrawal. The UN force had deployed 13,500 soldiers and 2,000 police across the three eastern provinces of Ituri, South Kivu, and North Kivu. 

The phased pullout, subject to regular assessments, aims to complete the first phase with the departure of peacekeepers from South Kivu by the end of April. Lutundula clarified that the plan had not reached the stage of “seeing soldiers board planes.”


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Faith Nyasuguta

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