Annan selects commanders of UN peacekeepers in Liberia and DR of Congo

30 September 2003

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has announced his intention to appoint generals from Kenya and Nigeria to lead United Nations peacekeepers in Liberia and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The names were sent to the Security Council on Monday, according to a spokesman for the Secretary-General.

For the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Mr. Annan has chosen Lt.-Gen. Daniel Ishmael Opande of Kenya, the current Force Commander of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). Some 3,500 soldiers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are set to don UN blue helmets Wednesday to become the first members of the UN force, which will eventually number 15,000 troops.

General Opande, 50, is a graduate of the British Army Cadet School at Sandhurst, the British Army Staff College and the United States National Defence University, and a former director of the of Kenya's National Defence College.

Meanwhile, Mr. Annan has selected Maj.-Gen. Samaila Iliya of Nigeria to head military operations for the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC). He has previously participated in UN peacekeeping operations in Lebanon and Rwanda.

General Iliya, 51, is expected to assume his command on 1 January, succeeding Maj.-Gen. Mountaga Diallo of Senegal, who will be completing his tour of duty at the end of the year.

General Iliya is a graduate of the Nigerian Military School, and advanced courses in France and the United States, and a former Chief of Administration of the Nigerian army.

Under General Diallo's command, MONUC "evolved from a small military observer mission to a major, multidimensional peacekeeping operation with a strength of 10,800 military personnel," spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

"The Secretary-General expresses his gratitude for the outstanding contribution made by Major-General Diallo to the DRC peace process," he added.


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