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Africa
UN approves partial DRC withdrawal
2,000 peacekeepers will leave the country by the end of June.
Last Modified: 28 May 2010 15:50 GMT
Joseph Kabila, the president of the DRC, wants a full withdrawal by August 2011 [AFP]

The United Nations Security Council has approved a partial withdrawal of its peacekeeping force from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The council's vote on Friday would remove 2,000 troops from the country by June 30, "where the security situation permits."

The partial withdrawal, which will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the DRC's independence from Belgium, is far smaller than the DRC government requested.

Congolese officials call the deployment a violation of their sovereignty. Joseph Kabila, the DRC's president, has asked for a complete withdrawal of the roughly 17,000 peacekeepers ahead of presidential elections in August 2011.

Further troop withdrawals will be considered according to "the situation on the ground," the UN said.

The UN has also changed the name of the peacekeeping force, rebranding it as a "stabilisation mission," a move intended to appease the government.

UN peacekeepers first arrived in the Congo in 1999, at the end of a four-year civil war.

They were often ill-equipped, and have been accused of corruption, but many observers credit the force with preventing even worse bloodshed in the country, which has faced an ongoing problem with rebel forces throughout the last decade.

Congo's national army is widely considered corrupt and ineffective.

Source:
Agencies
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