UN renews smaller DR Congo peacekeeping force

The UN's peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, known as MONUSCO, has been its largest and costliest thus far

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Friday to renew the mandate of the peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but cut its numbers.

Members of the council paid tribute to two kidnapped UN researchers whose bodies were found this week, and voted to approve the MONUSCO mission for another year.

The resolution reduces the authorized size of the military component of the mission from 19,815 to 16,215 troops, but the force is already under-strength and in practice fewer than 500 will come home.

The United States, which will assume the presidency of the Security Council in April, has called for a deep review of the strategy behind all the United Nations' peacekeeping missions.

And Washington, which currently funds more than 28 percent of the peacekeeping budget, is seeking to cut costs and improve the efficiency of the missions.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN members are pressing President Joseph Kabila's government to honor a power-sharing deal with the opposition ahead of elections later this year.

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