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“Congo is not burning” UN mission head in DRC says

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Head of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo held Wednesday her last press conference in Kinshasa as she prepares to hand over the baton at the end of her three years as the head of the UN mission.

“Today, even if the conflict persists, it is still contained in three eastern provinces,” said the head of the UN Mission in DRC.

For the Algerian, the situation is far from being terribly bad in the country. “Congo is not burning,” she said.

Leïla Zerrougui welcomed the organization of elections that allowed a peaceful transition of power for the first time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “There is no one who claims to be from an armed group to say “I am taking power,” she said.

Zerrougui though warned that “the risk of going backwards is not excluded”.

A highly criticised mandate

The diplomat leaves with a taste of incomplete work on certain points. For example, she regrets not having been able to move forward with the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration projects at the community level.

While refusing to consider this as a failure, she explains all wasn’t in place to get started. Her critics point to the “inefficiency” of the mission’s Rapid Intervention Brigade in the Béni region.

Zerrougui is also criticized for having proposed in October 2018 the opening of negotiations with the ADF rebels.

The Algerian will be replaced by the Guinean Bintou Keita, who will take office in February.

Monusco’s mandate was renewed in December for one year by the UN Security Council with a cautious start to a multi-year phase-out with no end date set.

The UN Mission has about 15,000 military and police personnel, with an annual budget of about one billion dollars.