, KINSHASA, May 19 – The head of the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), Alan Doss, is to retire by the end of this month, he told staff in a letter seen by AFP Wednesday.
Doss, 65, said it would be time to go when the United Nations Security Council approves a new role for MONUC, whose current mandate expires on May 31.
His announcement in the letter sent Tuesday followed a visit by a Security Council delegation to Kinshasa for talks on the future of MONUC, the world\’s largest peacekeeping mission with about 20,000 soldiers.
The Congolese government is urging the withdrawal of the mission by August 2011, but the United Nations and human rights and relief groups consider this would be premature in light of unrest in parts of the vast country.
Kinshasa wants the troops to begin pulling out around next June 30, the date on which the former Belgian Congo will celebrate 50 years of independence.
In a report recently submitted to the Security Council, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that a total withdrawal of MONUC should be tied to a series of strategic objectives.
These objectives covered the protection of civilians, including against the sexual violence that is high in the list of atrocities perpetrated by rebels and militias mainly in the east of the country.
Ban also wanted more trained Congolese policemen and a clear reduction of the threat posed by the Hutu rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and by the Ugandan Lord\’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The Congolese army currently fights the foreign insurgents with the help of MONUC troops, who provide logistic and tactical support.
Doss, a Briton, who has spent 44 years with the UN, mainly in development and peacekeeping, took over as head of MONUC in January 2008.
UN sources tip to succeed him UN special envoy in Pakistan Jean-Maurice Ripert, former peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno, or former US ambassador to Kinshasa Roger Meece.