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Congo: Security Cl authorizes multinational force

DR of Congo: Security Council authorizes multinational force to aid UN troops

Seeking to maintain stability in war-torn Bunia, the United Nations Security Council today authorized countries participating in the French-led force currently policing the tense northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to assist UN peacekeepers during the upcoming handover of authority there.

Adopting a new resolution, the Council approved recommendations made by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a recent letter, which urged the 15-nation body to consider such a contingency in case the situation in Bunia became volatile during the transition period between the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) and the Interim Emergency Multinational Force (IEMF).

The Secretary-General had also noted that preparations for the deployment by MONUC's brigade-size force in Bunia were well under way, and the deployment of an infantry battalion from Bangladesh was expected to be completed by 15 August. That battalion was to join the Uruguayan battalion already there, and they are to take over from the IEMF on 1 September.

The Council authorized the deployment of the IEMF in late May to help stabilize the situation in the resource-rich Ituri province, and particularly in the flashpoint town of Bunia, where ethnic clashes between Lendu and Hema clans had killed more than 400 people. In mid-July, fighting in remote areas of the northeast, particularly in the Kivus, continued, even as the international community was welcoming the installation of a new power-sharing transitional government in the capital Kinshasa.

The Council followed that move late last month by approving a one-year extension of MONUC's mandate, as well as increasing its military strength to 10,800 troops up from 8,700, and instituting an arms embargo against all foreign and Congolese armed groups in the east of the country.

Today, the Council reiterated its deep concern for the continuation of hostilities in the region - in Ituri as well as the provinces of North and South Kivu - and stressed the need to ensure the best conditions for the transfer of authority from the IEMF to MONUC to contribute in the most efficient way to the continuing stabilization of the region.


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