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UN Troubled by Crackdown on Peaceful Protesters in DRC, UN Official Says

© Flickr / Bart Wursten / Police of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Police of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - Sputnik International
UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations said that the United Nations is troubled by reports that the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are cracking down on unarmed demonstrators and shutting down media outlets.

UNITED NATIONS, January 22 (Sputnik) — The United Nations is troubled by reports that the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are cracking down on unarmed demonstrators and shutting down media outlets, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations said Thursday.

“These past few days we have witnessed troubling incidents related to the electoral process in Kinshasa, Goma, Bukavu and Lubumbashi,” Herve Ladsous told the UN Security Council.

“Reports of security forces using force against peaceful, unarmed demonstrators and arbitrary arrests are equally troubling. Reports that the DRC Government ordered internet sites, text messaging services, and radio stations to be shut down are alarming,” he continued.

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Major protests have taken place in the DRC in recent days over new electoral legislation that would extend incumbent President Joseph Kabila's rule.

Addressing the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, known by its French acronym MONUSCO, Ladsous confirmed that the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, had had a phone conversation with Kabila.

While the UN chief “has recommended a reduction of the MONUSCO military personnel by 2,000 troops, and to replace the two formed police units were deployed to South Sudan last year… president Kabila and his Government have advocated for deeper cuts,” Ladsous relayed.

The United Nations “would be happy” to work with the DRC government to “enable it to recommend an accelerated draw down,” the Under-Secretary-General concluded. The future of the DRC peacekeeping mission is still being considered by the Security Council.

MONUSCO was established by the UN Security Council in 1999 following the breakout of the Second Congo War, which officially ended in 2003. The mission has since switched its focus to other armed conflicts in the region and provided Congolese law enforcement with training. As of December 2014, the force consisted of 21,036 uniformed personnel.

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