AFRICA/DR CONGO - Withdrawal of the Blue Helmets from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo: Paris and Washington take different positions

Wednesday, 10 July 2024 un   wars  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - The east of the Democratic Republic of Congo is at the center of the geopolitical interests of the great powers due to its natural resources and its strategic location. On July 8, the UN Security Council discussed the situation in the region in a session during which the report of the group of experts that is supposed to take a look at the area every six months was presented. The report states, among other things, that Rwanda supports the M23 rebels, arms them and reinforces them with its own troops (see Fides, 9/7/2024).
During the meeting, the withdrawal of the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo, MONUSCO) was also discussed. The peacekeepers withdrew from South Kivu province last month, but have not yet left North Kivu and Ituri, where hundreds of armed groups are present alongside the M23 movement, including the jihadists of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), also known as ISCAP (Islamic State Central African Province).
In their place, the Southern African Development Community Mission in the DR Congo (SAMIDRC) will be deployed to support the Congolese army in its efforts to pacify the region. The US representative to the UN Security Council has spoken out against UN troops still in eastern DR Congo supporting SAMIDRC. "The primary goal of the United States in eastern DRC is to support a de-escalation of the conflict and put an end to the instability and human suffering the conflict has caused. That is why we believe this Council should guard against steps that could further inflame regional tensions—including extending significant MONUSCO support to SAMIDRC," said Stephanie Sullivan, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council, who advocated "limited support" from the UN for the East African states' mission.
The Washington government, which negotiated a humanitarian ceasefire between the M23 and the Congolese army that came into force on July 5 (see Fides, 9/7/2024), and which has criticized Rwanda for its actions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, continues to call on Kinshasa and Kigali to sit down at the negotiating table in Luanda (Angola) to find a solution to the crisis that threatens to spread to the entire Great Lakes region. Unlike the United States, France has asked the UN Security Council to slow down the withdrawal of MONUSCO from the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, where, according to Paris, the conditions for withdrawal are not yet met, calling for cooperation between the blue helmets and the SAMIDRC soldiers. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 10/7/2024)