UN Military Chief Criticizes Congo's Armed Forces

Sunday November 16th, 2008 / 18h30

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (AFP)--The head of the United Nations military operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo has criticized the conduct of government forces, saying order needs to be restored and they should stop unjustified retreats.
"When you look at the situation in Kanyabayonga" in eastern Congo where "troops left the town a little precipitately" earlier this week when confronted by rebel forces, "order needs to be restored in the army," Senegalese General Babacar Gaye told AFP in an interview in Kinshasa on Saturday.
"I am not saying that the army is in flight, I am saying that it is in a difficult situation," Gaye said after a visit with the chief of staff of the Congolese army General Gabriel Amisi to the province of Nord-Kivu.
Fighting has occurred since August in Nord-Kivu between rebels led by renegade general Laurent Nkunda and government forces.
The U.N. has accused the Congolese army of wide-scale looting in several towns in the east, and Gaye, who heads the 17,000-strong U.N. mission in Congo, or MONUC, said it had been the victim of "excesses" by some of it members.
There was a need to avoid some soldiers taking flight "because they were told of an attack" and also to avoid others "launching an uncoordinated counter attack" as had happened recently near Nord-Kivu's capital Goma, he said.
Gaye also laid part of the blame for the worsening situation in Nord-Kivu on the Congolese army.
"We were making progress at the end of September," he said.
"Unfortunately the FARDC (government forces) had some successes on the ground and were tempted to continue ... while on the contrary I had recommended ... that the FARDC set a good example, that they deploy along the lines established" by a January ceasefire.
Gaye, who was head of the U.N. forces from March 2005 until October 2008, returning when his successor quit after a month, said that a solution had to be based on a military stabilization.
The army should adopt a strictly defensive posture, something that had to be laid down by senior commanders.
Gaye said that in 10 days at the latest an extra 1,000 MONUC troops would be deployed in Nord-Kivu bringing the number to 6,000.
MONUC policy was to protect major urban centers such as Goma, on whose doorstep the rebels have been since last month.
"You have to make a choice, you cannot be everywhere," he said.
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Sunday November 16th, 2008 / 18h30 Source : Dowjones Business News

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