22 Nov 2008

UN to boost DR Congo forces by 3,000

9:56 am on 22 November 2008

The UN Security Council is to temporarily boost its forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo by 3,000 troops.

In a unanimous resolution, the council agreed on Thursday to increase the 17,000-strong mission until the end of December.

The reinforcement could be renewed at the same time as the mandate of the mission, which also expires then.

The resolution was drawn up by France and co-sponsored by several nations.

The Security Council also voted for the peacekeepers to implement their mandate "in full", through robust rules of engagement.

The BBC reports that this is supposed to make clear to commanders on the ground that they can use all means necessary to protect local people.

About 5,000 UN peacekeepers are based in eastern Nord-Kivu province where fierce fighting flared again at the end of August between government and rebel forces.

General Laurent Nkunda accuses the government of backing Rwanda Hutu rebels involved in the genocide of Tutsis in their country in 1994.

He has threatened to topple the government of President Laurent Kabila unless direct negotiations are held with the president.

The eastern Congo covers an area the size of France.