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DR of Congo: Security Council extends and strengthens UN military force

DR of Congo: Security Council extends and strengthens UN military force

Kofi Annan addresses the Council
The United Nations Security Council today extended the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for another year, increased its military strength to 10,800 from 8,700, and instituted an arms embargo against all foreign and Congolese armed groups in the east of the country.

“I congratulate the Security Council on unanimously adopting the resolution giving MONUC (as the UN operation is known) the strong mandate it needs to fulfil its difficult mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” especially in the volatile east, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in remarks to the 15-member body after the vote.

Mr. Annan welcomed the “important steps” of the past month, which saw the formation of a coalition cabinet among government and rebel forces in a country that has been torn by years of civil war. But, he warned, “the road ahead over the next two to three years toward free and fair elections will be difficult.”

Referring to a French-led interim emergency force that rushed into the eastern Ituri region last month after fierce fighting between rival ethnic militias, he told journalists later: “We’ve been lucky to get a multilateral force to go in to try and contain the situation and stop the killing and allow humanitarian assistance to go through but now with this resolution we will be able to send in an expanded force into Ituri just before the multinational force withdraws.”

Mr. Annan said troops were already lined up from Asia and South Africa to go to eastern DRC and he hoped Bangladesh, Pakistan and India would join them.

The new resolution 1493 extends MONUC’s mandate until 30 July 2004 and, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which permits the use of force, authorizes the mission for the first time since it was established in 1999 to use all necessary means to fulfil its mandate in Ituri and North and South Kivu.

The text authorizes MONUC to take the necessary measures to protect civilians and humanitarian workers under imminent threat of physical violence, protect UN personnel and facilities and ensure its freedom of movement, and contribute to the improvement of security conditions in which humanitarian assistance is provided.

“Through the resolution adopted today, the Security Council has placed MONUC, in coordination with UN agencies and donors, in a key role to help the Congolese achieve a sustainable peace leading to a democratically elected government,” Mr. Annan told the Council. “It will be necessary for the international community to provide the resources needed to implement this far-reaching resolution.”

image Video of the Council meeting