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The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) finalized an agreement to withdraw its 15,000 peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), amid ongoing violence in the country’s east and criticism of the mission’s effectiveness, Africanews reported.

On Tuesday, DRC Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula and MONUSCO’s head, Bintou Keita, signed a deal marking the conclusion of a nearly two-decades-long collaboration.

The minister said the agreement marked the end of a partnership “which has proved its limits in a context of permanent war, without the longed-for peace being restored to eastern Congo.”

MONUSCO’s exit comes as the region has been ensnared in a protracted conflict involving numerous armed groups – with some of them receiving support from neighboring countries.

The DRC is also preparing for next month’s presidential and parliamentary elections, with the conflict taking a central role in campaigns. In September, President Félix Tshisekedi called for an expedited withdrawal of the UN peacekeepers.

At the same time, the UN mission has faced criticism and tensions from the local population, leading to protests against MONUSCO, sometimes resulting in fatalities. In August, Congolese troops launched a brutal crackdown on anti-UN demonstrations that resulted in nearly 50 deaths.

Amid ongoing frustration over the lack of protection, the Congolese government directed the East African regional force to leave the country by December, citing a “lack of satisfactory results on the ground.”

While the announcement did not provide a definitive timeline for MONUSCO’s withdrawal, observers suggest that any acceleration is unlikely before the conclusion of the current election cycle.

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