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November 30, 2009

During a press conference in Mbuji-Mayi on Sunday, President Kabila was asked about wire reports that the Congolese government has asked the United Nations to provide a pullout plan for its peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC).

“We have very good relations with MONUC. When will MONUC go? I do not know, but we have very good relations. There have been some differences here and there, but for now, we have very good relations with MONUC”, he said.

He added that “MONUC’s mandate will be renewed for another 6 months in December. The desire of the Congolese government is to receive a disengagement plan for MONUC by June 30, 2010, because we believe, and it’s a fact, that since the beginning of this year, there has been a marked improvement in the security situation in the East.”

President Kabila said he hoped to receive the pullout plan by the end of the year. “Based on this plan, we will eventually discuss with MONUC the practicalities of its gradual disengagement”, he said.

MONUC’s current mandate expires in December. It is expected that the U.N. Security Council will extend the peacekeeping mission for only 6 months this time instead of a full year as usual.

The Democratic Republic of Congo will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence on June 30, 2010. Some analysts have suggested the government wants to show it no longer relies on the 20,000- strong U.N. peacekeeping force to maintain security in the country.

MONUC was established by the U.N. Security Council in 1999. The largest for any current U.N. peacekeeping operation, its annual budget has grown to more than 1 billion U.S. dollars.