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US envoy says UN aiding ‘corrupt’ DRC government

US UN envoy on DR CongoThe US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are aiding a government that is "corrupt and preys on its citizens" as negotiations for the mission's renewal continue.

"The UN peacekeeping mission is mandated to partner with government," Haley told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "In other words the UN is aiding a government that is inflicting predatory behaviour against its own people. We should have the decency and common sense to end this."

Haley's comments came two days before the expiration of the mandate for the $1.2 billion mission in the central African state, MONUSCO. The confidential Security Council negotiations on its renewal are taking place amid UN warnings that violence is spreading across the DRC ahead of planned elections before the end of 2017.

The United States wants the troop cap to be cut by a quarter to 15,000, diplomats said, and despite a request by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to add two extra police units - 320 officers - Washington does not want to change the current total of 1,050.

Adding to tensions was the announcement this week that villagers had discovered the bodies of two UN investigators and their Congolese interpreter who went missing in Kasai Central province, an area engulfed in a violent uprising.

Resource-rich Congo, which gained independence from colonial power Belgium, has never had a peaceful transition of power. President Joseph Kabila's refusal to stand down when his final term expired in December raised fears the unstable country could slide back into civil war.

Opposition leaders signed a fragile deal with the ruling coalition and allies of Kabila on December 31 requiring him to step down after elections that must happen by the end of 2017.

"Failure to move ahead with the accord clearly thwarts the will of the Congolese people and jeopardises progress achieved thus far," acting US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Tuesday.

"The United States urges government and opposition leaders to refrain from statements or actions that could incite violence or unrest," he said in a statement.

 
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