The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) decided late Tuesday to reassess the agreement on the withdrawal of the United Nations stabilization mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) amid escalating protests against the MONUSCO in the eastern part of the country, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said.
Thirty-six people have been killed, including three members of the MONUSCO, and about 170 others were injured during the protests, said Muyaya at a press conference. The DRC government will convene a meeting with MONUSCO to reassess the plan for its withdrawal as agreed under a UN Security Council Resolution, which is due in December, he said, suggesting the Congolese side may ask MONUSCO to leave earlier.
Minister of Industry Julien Paluku, who just finished an assessment mission in the northeastern province of North Kivu, said it was clear that “the local people no longer want this UN mission,” which has been in the country for more than 20 years. “We believe that we must take action. The population made a clear request of seeing MONUSCO leave the DRC,” he said alongside Muyaya.
Muyaya said Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi talked on Monday with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and expressed his “total disapproval” of the behavior of MONUSCO’s blue helmets, including in Kasindi, North Kivu province, where MONUSCO military personnel opened fire at residents on Sunday.
Since July 25, thousands of people have been protesting against MONUSCO in several towns across the country for seeing little improvement in security despite the presence of the UN mission for over two decades. Outrage at MONUSCO grew on Sunday after the UN troops killed two civilians in the town of Kasindi on the border with Uganda.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had expressed outrage at Sunday’s incident and apologized to the Congolese president, saying the United Nations is totally committed to peace and to coordinating and working with the Congolese armed forces.
He also stressed the need to establish accountability for these events. There are more than 12,000 peacekeepers in the DRC from more than 10 countries. Mission chief Bitou Keita had ordered to detain the peacekeepers involved in Sunday’s shooting incident and to open an investigation.