Saturday, April 21, 2007

UN still in Liberia, but in limbo in the DRC

I was interested to read a piece in the Monrovia Inquirer (via AllAfrica.com) reassuring people that the UN mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was not going to leave the country in the next six months. It looks like quite a bit of concern had been expressed in Liberia when the UN's mission there was extended by only six months, rather than a year. But the UN secretary-general's special representative to the country reassured the local press that the UN was not going to cut its mission short.

However, the Inquirer did point out that [t]he Security Council has also requested the Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon to present a detailed drawdown plan for the mission in his next report to the Security Council scheduled for June, which should include specific recommendations on force levels and options for a drawdown.

Things are not so straightforward in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN mission in the country, MONUC, has been temporarily extended by one month after Security Council members failed to find a compromise about how to reshape MONUC after last year's elections.

The Christian Science Monitor reported on the concerns of many Congolese on the potential ending of the UN mission.

Given the current tension in the country, with the main opposition leader in Portugal in de facto exile, calls for his immunity to be lifted and government intimidation of the local press, it could be argued that the DRC needs an extended UN mission at least as much as Liberia. Then again, there seems to be the political will in Liberia that will allow the UN mission there to succeed. It's not readily apparent if the same will can be found in the DRC.

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