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Redeployment of peacekeepers from Burundi to Congo

Annan calls for redeployment of some peacekeepers from Burundi to DR Congo

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has announced his intention to redeploy peacekeepers from the organization's operation in Burundi (ONUB) to its mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) to boost security and monitoring during the Congolese elections and beyond.

In a letter addressed to the President of the Security Council, which has already authorized the redeployment but must decide on the specifics, Mr. Annan said he would transfer one infantry battalion, a military hospital and up to 50 military observers for an initial period running through the end of this year.

The military units, he said, would operate in troubled Katanga province of the huge central African country, where UN agencies have reported that fighting between the army and Mai Mai rebels has driven over 150,000 people from their homes in the last six months.

Observers would be deployed throughout the country to increase observer capacity for the 18 June poll, which the UN is helping to organize in the largest and most expensive electoral operation the world body has ever undertaken.

Pakistan and Jordan, the troop contributing countries, have indicated their agreement in principle to the transfer.

In a December resolution extending ONUB's Mandate, the Council had authorized redeployment of military and civilian police personnel between the two missions as a step toward draw-down of the Burundi force after last year's successful elections as it emerges from its 12-year civil war.

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