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UN Security Council renews mandate of mission in DR Congo

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Thursday extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for another year, and endorsed the suggested cut of 2,000 troops of its strength.

In a resolution adopted here, the Council decided to extend until March 31, 2016 the mandate of MONUSCO (the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC) and its intervention brigade.

It also endorsed the recommendation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to "reduce the MONUSCO force by 2,000 troops, while maintaining an authorized troop ceiling of 19,815 military personnel, 760 military observers and staff officers, 391 police personnel, and 1,050 personnel of formed police units."

The resolution noted that this reduction will become permanent once significant progress in the DRC is achieved.

Determinations of further reconfigurations of MONUSCO should be based on progress on the ground and made in consultations with the government, according to the resolution.

It authorizes MONUSCO to take all necessary measures to ensure the effective protection of civilians under threat of physical violence and of UN personnel, and to work with the government on identifying threats to civilians and implementing existing prevention and response plans.

The Mission is also authorized to carry out targeted offensive operations through the intervention brigade in cooperation with the whole of MONUSCO, and is responsible for monitoring implementation of the arms embargo.

The resolution noted "with deep concern" the lack of progress in fields essential for DRC's stabilization and reiterated its call to the government to take "immediate steps" to uphold its commitment to security sector reform.

On the country's elections scheduled for November 2016, the resolution called on the DRC to ensure a transparent and credible electoral process, in accordance with the constitution.

While demanding full cooperation with MONUSCO in the DRC, the resolution stressed that MONUSCO's exit should be gradual and progressive, and should be tied to specific targets to be jointly developed by the government and MONUSCO.

MONUSCO took over from an earlier UN peacekeeping operation, the United Nations Organization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), on July 1 2010. The mission was authorized to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate relating to the protection of civilians, humanitarian personnel and human rights defenders under imminent threat of physical violence and to support the government of the DRC in its stabilization and peace consolidation efforts.

Faced with recurrent waves of conflict in eastern DRC which threaten the overall stability and development of the country and wider Great Lakes region, the Security Council authorized the deployment of an intervention brigade within MONUSCO in March 2013, to carry out targeted offensive operations, with or without the Congolese national army, against armed groups that threaten peace in eastern DRC.

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