The Congolese government said that the spokesperson had made "indelicate and inappropriate" statements, which contributed to the tensions between the population and MONUSCO.

Congolese civilians accuse the mission, which has been active for more than a decade, of failing to protect them from militia violence that has long plagued the region.
Congolese civilians accuse the mission, which has been active for more than a decade, of failing to protect them from militia violence that has long plagued the region. (Reuters Archive)

Democratic Republic of the Congo has asked the spokesperson of the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, to leave the country, blaming him for stoking tensions that led to deadly protests last week.

"The Congolese government considers that the presence of this official on the national territory is not likely to promote a climate of mutual trust and calm between Congolese institutions and MONUSCO," said the statement from the foreign affairs ministry dated July 28 and seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The government said that the spokesperson, Mathias Gillmann, had made "indelicate and inappropriate" statements which contributed to the tensions between the population and MONUSCO.

Thirty-six people, including four UN peacekeepers, were killed last week as hundreds of protesters vandalised and set fire to UN buildings in several cities in Congo's east.

Civilians accuse the mission, which has been active for more than a decade, of failing to protect them from militia violence that has long plagued the region.

Mission's withdrawal plan

Gillmann and MONUSCO's deputy spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Congolese government also said this week that it would reassess the mission's withdrawal plan in light of the protests, a decision which MONUSCO said it supported.

The mission is due to withdraw by 2024 according to a plan drawn up last year, but the government aims to speed up its departure, said foreign affairs minister Christophe Lutundula.

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Source: Reuters