DR Congo expels spokesman for UN peacekeeping mission after protests

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Thirty-six people, including four UN peacekeepers, were killed last week in protests against the missions.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has asked the spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, to leave the country, blaming him for fueling tensions that led to deadly protests last week.

The decision was announced in a statement from the State Department on July 28 and seen by the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

Thirty-six people, including four UN peacekeepers, were killed last week when hundreds of protesters destroyed and set fire to mission buildings in several towns in the east of the country.

Civilians accuse the mission, which has been operating for more than 10 years, of failing to protect them from armed gang violence that has long plagued the region.

The government said its spokesman, Mathias Gillmann, had made “insensitive and inappropriate” statements that added to tensions between the population and MONUSCO.

“The Congolese government believes that the presence of this official on national territory is unlikely to create a climate of mutual trust and calm between Congolese institutions and MONUSCO,” the statement said.

The deputy spokesperson for Gillmann and MONUSCO did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Congolese government also said this week it would review the mission’s withdrawal plan in light of the protests, a decision MONUSCO said it supported.

According to a plan drawn up last year, the mission is to withdraw by 2024, but the government wants to accelerate the departure, Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula said.



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