Saturday, January 09, 2016

Congolese Troops Withdraw From Central African Force
Saturday 9 January 2016 18:36

In August, three Congolese peacekeepers in Central African Republic were accused of raping three female civilians.

Hundreds of peacekeepers from Democratic Republic of Congo on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic will withdraw, a spokesperson said on Saturday, after they failed an internal assessment.

The historically turbulent former French colony suffered an intensification of violence in 2013 when mostly Muslim rebels known as Seleka seized power in a coup.

Since then, militias drawn from the Christian majority have launched reprisal attacks and thousands of people have been killed and around a million displaced despite efforts by United Nations and French peacekeepers to restore order.

"It is confirmed that the Congolese unit will withdraw from Minusca," said Vladimir Monteiro, spokesperson for the UN mission in Central African Republic.

"The contingent will leave and not be replaced."

Asked about whether the withdrawal could jeopardise security, Monteiro declined to give an immediate comment, saying a further announcement would be made next week.

In August, three Congolese peacekeepers in Central African Republic were accused of raping three female civilians, including one minor.

Congolese Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe said at the time the allegations would be investigated.

It was not immediately clear whether such allegations were the main factor behind the decision to withdraw Congolese troops.

The UN spokesperson in New York earlier said that the UN review of Congolese troops assessed the equipment, the vetting procedures and overall preparedness of the contingent.

In January, the UN said it was investigating new allegations of sexual abuse of minors by peacekeepers.

According to the UN peacekeeping website, there are 809 Congolese troops and 123 police deployed as part of the11, 000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic, known as Minusca.

Paris also plans to draw down its troops in the country, which originally numbered around 2,000, once a transition back to democracy is complete.

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