Since years the world’s largest UN peacekeeping force (currently around 20,000 peacekeepers) is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo; MONUC after its French acronym for Mission de l'Organisation des Nations Unies en République Démocratique du Congo.
Recently the Congolese government has asked for them to leave (here). Kinshasa argues that the UN is no longer necessary; most of the fighting is over and its own forces are ready to fill the gap left by MONUC's withdrawal. I am not the biggest fan of MONUC, but this is nonsense and the UN should stay: fighting is not over (especially in the east) and Congolese forces are definitely not able to fill the gap: most haven’t been paid in many months, the Congelese army is guilty of raping and killing civilians, etc. It is more likely Kinshasa wants them to leave for two other reasons:
- On June 30 the DRC will celebrate its 50th year of independence from Belgium; indeed, symbolically it is probably not great to the world's largest foreign force in your country;
- Elections are coming up - expected in July 2011 for the legislative and October 2011 for the president - and MONUC not only did most of the logistics in the last one, they also monitor.
A new UN proposal is now on the table. The United Nations will withdraw 2,000 peacekeepers by June 30 (oh so symbolically), but the remaining 20,000 leave only when security improves, France's ambassador to Congo - Pierre Jacquemot - said on Monday. He also said that MONUC may be renamed to include an "S" in the acronym as the organization is refocused on security and stabilization: "The mission of 'MONUSCO' will be focused on essential tasks: the protection of the population and the stabilization of peace." Great; another acronym to learn. Btw, where is that "O" coming from? Security is Sécurité and Stabilization is Stabilisation in French; so no "O"s there. Are we talking about COngo or maybe Observation = Observation? Pierre Jacquemot: HELP.