United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has welcomed the smooth changing of the guard in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where UN peacekeepers will now police the war-torn town of Bunia and its surroundings, taking over from the French-led interim force deployed there since June.
In a statement issued by his spokesman in New York, the Secretary-General welcomed yesterday's "smooth transfer of security responsibilities" from the Interim Emergency Multinational Force (IEMF) to the UN Organization Mission's (MONUC's) Ituri Brigade in Bunia.
"The Secretary-General expresses his appreciation to all States that have contributed troops to the IEMF, in particular the Framework Nation, France," the statement said.
"The Secretary-General is confident that the MONUC force on the ground, already totalling over 2,500, is prepared to implement its mandate," the statement continued, adding that his intention is that MONUC will maintain the momentum of its further deployment to the region and of the peace process facilitated by the presence of the European Union-led IEMF.
"The Secretary-General reminds all the key players in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the neighbouring States of their responsibility to stay on the course of peace and reconciliation, and to cooperate fully with the United Nations," the statement concluded.