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After violent anti-UN rallies last week, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s government stated late Monday that it would reconsider the UN peacekeeping mission’s pullout strategy, implying that it may ask the force to leave sooner than intended.

According to the government, 29 civilians and four MONUSCO personnel were murdered during protests in eastern Congo. Protesters demanded that peacekeepers leave the nation because they had failed to protect citizens from militia groups that had caused devastation in the area for decades. 

“Government has been instructed to expedite a meeting with MONUSCO in order to reevaluate its withdrawal plan,” the statement stated, without going into more detail.

MONUSCO, which took over a previous United Nations mission in 2010, has been progressively scaling down for years, and its present mandate expires in December. A police representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

As hundreds of demonstrators flung rocks and petrol bombs, vandalized and set fire to U.N. facilities, U.N. forces were accused of retaliating with force, including in some instances, live bullets.

According to a government committee assigned to evaluate the aftermath, 13 people were killed in skirmishes in Goma, another 13 – including four peacekeepers – in Butembo, and three in Kanyabayonga, according to Congo’s president.

Four demonstrators were murdered in Uvira when forces opened fire, striking an electric line that collapsed on them. 

Three civilians were killed in a separate incident on Sunday, when troops returning from leave to a United Nations intervention brigade opened fire at a border station. 

According to the committee, over 170 persons were injured, with considerable anti-UN sentiment among civil society groups.

The United Nations has denounced the violence and promised to examine alleged violations on both sides in collaboration with Congolese authorities.

According to its website, MONUSCO has more than 12,000 soldiers and 1,600 police officers stationed in Congo as of November 2021.

For years, allegations of abuse have plagued United Nations peacekeeping deployments.

Frustrations with MONUSCO have been fueled by a recent resurgence of battles in eastern Congo between local soldiers and the M23 rebel organization, which have displaced hundreds.

Despite a year-long state of emergency and coordinated operations by the Congolese and Ugandan forces, attacks by terrorists affiliated to the Islamic State have also persisted.

Source: Reuters

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