MONUSCO head Maman Maman Sambo Sidikou

The United Nations plans to reduce its peacekeeping troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by 1700 personnel.

Addressing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Maman Sambo Sidikou, the head of the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), said the move is in line with the Secretary General’s recommendations.

With a force of over 20.000 troops from over 30 countries, MONUSCO is the biggest peacekeeping force in the world and spends millions of dollars in sustenance annually. It was established in November 1999 and has to date spent over US$8.5 billion of operations in the vast and troubled central Africa state.

Meanwhile, Mr Sidikou has raised the proverbial red flag, saying rising tensions in the DRC ahead of elections in November could lead to violence if unaddressed.

“First, credible and meaningful political dialogue is needed to overcome the impasse in the electoral process,” Mr Sidikou was quoted saying, adding: A strong message on the need for political consensus and an agreed, sustainable way forward will be important, while also emphasizing the link between a credible electoral process and upholding fundamental human rights.”

He also called for a national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, to pave the way for ex-combatants to go back to their communities or countries of origin.

“Neutralizing armed groups goes beyond military operations and requires enhanced efforts to extend State authority and find durable solutions for former combatants,” Mr Sidikou said, before underlining his priority to fully implement MONUSCO’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy against sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).

“Under my leadership, MONUSCO will take all possible steps to prevent SEA, punish those responsible to the maximum extent possible, and address the needs of victims.”