President of the DR Congo calls for ‘better armed’ UN peacekeepers

On December 27, DR Congo expelled the European Union’s head of mission, Bart Ouvry
UN peacekeepers of the MONUSCO force stand next to a UN vehicle, after the bodies of seven people were found on May 9, 2015 in Matembo, 12 km from the city of Beni, in the North-Kivu eastern province. Two women and five men bearing stab wounds were killed, an AFP photographer reported, in the last of a serie of massacres taking place in the restive North Kivu province, where mainly Muslim Ugandan rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been blamed for killing more than 300 civilians in gruesome machete attacks since October 2014. AFP PHOTO / KUDRA MALIRO (Photo by KUDRA MALIRO / AFP)

DR Congo’s new President Felix Tshisekedi called Friday for a “better armed” UN peacekeeping force in the troubled country, in his first formal meeting with foreign diplomats after taking power.

Tshisekedi also called for “healthy cooperation” with Europe, following tensions during the latter half of his predecessor Joseph Kabila’s 18-year rule.

He said the Democratic Republic of Congo wanted to work jointly with the UN to draw up a withdrawal plan for the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission, one of the biggest in the world which has been present in DRC for 20 years.

In the meantime, its troops “should be reduced and better armed and prepared” to fight the numerous rebel and militia groups which hold sway over large areas of the country, he said.

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On December 27, DR Congo expelled the European Union’s head of mission, Bart Ouvry, a Belgian national, after the 28-nation bloc reimposed sanctions on 14 officials over a brutal crackdown on protests during Kabila’s rule.

Tshisekedi said he wanted a mutual exchange of ambassadors “as soon as possible,” but underscored Kinshasa would “protect its political independence… and sovereignty.”

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