UN ‘regrets’ DR Congo’s expulsion of peacekeeping mission spokesman

The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo said on Thursday it “regrets” the government’s decision to expel its spokesman.

According to an official letter seen by AFP on Wednesday, DR Congo has asked the peacekeeping mission, known as MONUSCO, to withdraw spokesman Mathias Gillmann for “indelicate and inappropriate remarks” that he held.

“The government would very much appreciate if steps are taken to ensure that Mr. Mathias Gillmann leaves Congolese territory as soon as possible,” he added, citing recent tensions between the peacekeeping mission and locals.

On Thursday, MONUSCO said in a statement that it had taken note of the request and that it “regrets the expulsion of its spokesperson by the Congolese government”.

“The mission is committed to continuing to work alongside the Congolese population and authorities to implement the mandate given to it by the (UN) Security Council,” he said. .

The government’s letter to MONUSCO, dated July 28, did not provide details of Gillmann’s remarks.

But a senior government official who requested anonymity said the spokesman told French radio RFI that UN peacekeepers did not have the military means to defeat a notorious armed group called the M23 .

The militia had lain dormant for years before resuming fighting last November.

He has since made significant gains, capturing the strategic town of Bunagana on the border with Uganda in June.

The resurgence of the group has also damaged diplomatic relations between the DRC and its smaller neighbor Rwanda, which the Congolese government accuses of supporting the M23.

The United Nations first deployed an observer mission to eastern Congo in 1999 and created MONUSCO in 2010 with a mandate to conduct offensive operations.

The peacekeeping operation is one of the largest and costliest in the world, with an annual budget of around $1 billion.

(AFP)

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