The United Nations is preparing to deploy a third rapid reaction battalion to support the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), officials said.
The planned deployment follows increasing political instability and violence, including a December attack on a UN base by suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist group originating from Uganda, which killed 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers and wounded 43 others.
Political unrest and violence have spiked following recent protests over President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down despite his mandate ending in 2016. The bloodshed has been exacerbated by rival militias vying for power and control over the country’s abundant natural resources.
On Tuesday, the UN’s Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix warned that political brinkmanship in the Congo would only further delay much anticipated presidential elections.
Lacroix said implementation of a December 2016 agreement, which allowed Kabila to stay in power beyond the end of his term but stipulated that peaceful, credible and inclusive elections would be organised by the end of December 2017, remained only partial.
The polls were reportedly pushed back to December 2018, sparking violent protests late last month.