In a significant move towards the accelerated withdrawal of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the Congolese Vice Prime Minister, Christophe Lutundula, and MONUSCO Head, Bintou Keita, jointly signed a comprehensive disengagement plan in Kinshasa on Tuesday, 21 November. The plan outlines an orderly and responsible withdrawal of MONUSCO from the DRC, addressing the desire expressed by the Congolese leadership to initiate the process starting in December 2023.
The disengagement plan, developed in response to the Security Council Presidential Statement of 16 October, will be executed in three phases, with the collaboration of joint technical teams from the Government and MONUSCO. International and national partners of the DRC will provide support throughout the implementation.
Mr Lutundula emphasized the significance of the withdrawal, stating, “We want this withdrawal to be a model that will give us greater international respectability and help us improve our country’s image. This document contains a plan for the disengagement of the MONUSCO Force, and a plan for transferring tasks and responsibilities from MONUSCO to the Government of the DRC.”
Ms Keita expressed appreciation for the collaborative efforts, saying, “We thank our Congolese partners for signing this disengagement plan, which marks the end of a long process. We remain determined to work with the Congolese authorities towards an accelerated withdrawal of MONUSCO that consolidates the gains made during the Mission’s presence in the DRC.”
The withdrawal plan includes provisions for a quarterly evaluation mechanism to assess progress regularly and minimize potential disruptions that could lead to a security vacuum. Post-MONUSCO, the United Nations system commits to supporting the development efforts of the Congolese Government and people, aiming to sustain peacebuilding and security gains in the country.
Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based White House Correspondent, and media commentator with expertise in US foreign policy and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe
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