French push to boost UN presence in D R Congo

26th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 25 (AFP) - France on Thursday is expected to introduce a resolution in the UN Security Council to reinforce UN forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a diplomatic source said here Wednesday.

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 25 (AFP) - France on Thursday is expected to introduce a resolution in the UN Security Council to reinforce UN forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a diplomatic source said here Wednesday.

The source said the resolution was prompted by the latest report by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the situation in the DRC and in Africa's Great Lakes region.

Annan asked the Security Council on August 16 to increase the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC (MONUC) from 10,500 to 23,900 in order to prepare for DRC elections next year and to deal with the new crisis engendered by a recent massacre in the neighbouring state of Burundi.

Such an increase would make MONUC the largest UN peacekeeping force deployed in any country.

Annan's request at first got a cool reception on the Security Council, notably from the United States, which picks up 27 percent of the total cost of UN peacekeeping operations around the world.

Washington said an increase in MONUC was not necessarily the best way to improve the MONUC's effectiveness in DRC.

Military experts consulted by the security council have confirmed the figures in Annan's request, citing the DRC's size and the magnitude of the stabilization task, said the diplomatic source.

That military perspective, he added, convinced some of the previously reticent delegations.

Given the time needed to transfer large UN contingents to a country, the security council is expected to fast track the deployment of two battalions (800-1,000 troops) to the DRC, irrespective of action taken on the larger request, said the source.

That rapid action would correspond to a request by Annan's special envoy in DRC, William Lacy Swing.

The Great Lakes region - DRC, Burundi and Uganda - has seen violent ethnic clashes, and the DRC is still feeling the after effects of a five-year civil was that left some 2.5 million dead.

Although the war ended last year, violence has continued, particularly in the east and northeast near the frontier with Rwanda and Burundi.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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