The United Nations and DR Congo government have signed an agreement that will kick-start the withdrawal of MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in the Country.
The first phase of the troop withdrawal is due in December.
In a statement on Wednesday, November 22, MONUSCO said the plan, signed in Kinshasa on Tuesday by the mission's head Bintou Keita and DR Congo's Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula, would ensure an "accelerated, progressive, orderly and responsible withdrawal" of the UN troops.
It also contained "a complete MONUSCO disengagement timeline."
DR Congo President said in September that his country wanted the 25-year-old mission to withdraw.
The disengagement plan was developed by technical teams from the government and MONUSCO, the statement said. The disengagement plan will be implemented jointly in three phases with the support of international and national partners of the country, MONUSCO said.
"It must be a model of withdrawal which will give us more international respectability, which will contribute to improving the image of our country," said Lutundula.
He said there would be a quarterly evaluation mechanism to monitor the situation and "minimize any sudden disruptions that could create a security vacuum."
As of February 2023, MONUSCO had 17,753 personnel, including over 12,000 troops and some 1,600 police officers.
Since at least 2022, the UN mission, which was deployed a quarter century ago, has faced demonstrations over failure to end decades of insecurity in eastern DR Congo, which is home to over 130 armed groups.
After MONUSCO's departure, the United Nations system will continue to support the development efforts of the Congolese government and people with the aim of perpetuating the achievements in terms of peace and security, the statement said.