MONUSCO “deeply regrets” the DRC Government’s decision to expel its spokesperson

The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) said Thursday that it “deeply regrets” the Congolese government’s decision to demand that its spokesperson leave the country, in a context of tensions due to the death of more than 30 people during protests against the presence of the ‘blue helmets’.

“MONUSCO takes note and deeply regrets the decision of the Government of DRC to ask a member of its staff to leave the country,” the mission said in a brief statement published through its website.

It stressed that “the mission is committed to continue working alongside the Congolese population and authorities to carry out the mandate entrusted to it by the (UN) Security Council”, without commenting on Kinshasa’s criticism of its spokesman, Mathias Gillmann.

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The Congolese Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula, sent a note to MONUSCO to explain the request, which he linked to the “regrettable increase in tensions between the civilian population and MONUSCO, particularly in North Kivu” and to Gillmann’s “indelicate and inopportune statements” on the situation.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday called on the government to “re-evaluate” the MONUSCO withdrawal plan following the death of 36 people in protests, including four members of the UN mission, after the international body’s secretary general, António Guterres, expressed “indignation” after ‘blue helmets’ shot dead two people in an incident in the town of Kasindi, on the Ugandan border.

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