US ambassador to UN calls Congo government ‘corrupt’

Supports large cut in peacekeeping mission

NAIROBI, Kenya — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday said the UN is partnering with a “corrupt” government in Congo, and she supports a large cut in the world’s largest peacekeeping mission there.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Ambassador Nikki Haley said the UN mission in Congo “is aiding a government that is inflicting predatory behaviour against its own people.”

Her comments came a day after Congo said the bodies of an American and a Swedish investigator for the UN and a Congolese colleague were found Monday in a shallow grave in a region that has seen months of deadly violence between government troops and local militias. Congo says it will investigate.

The Trump administration has been vocal about reducing U.S. funding for the UN as part of proposed deep cuts in foreign aid. That includes UN peacekeeping.

Haley said “we can reduce the troops tremendously” in the peacekeeping mission in Congo, which is the UN’s most expensive. It has struggled to defeat rebel groups operating in the eastern part of the vast, mineral-rich nation.

Since taking the post of U.S. ambassador earlier this year, Haley has begun a mission-by-mission review of peacekeeping operations to assess their effectiveness. President Donald Trump has pledged to drastically cut funding for international organizations and reduce funding to UN peacekeeping operations from roughly 28 to 25 per cent of total costs.

Haley also spoke on South Sudan, a nation gripped by civil war and famine, saying there is “no political solution in sight.”

She said it is time to rethink the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping mission there, and the criticized South Sudan’s government for restricting access for aid workers.

“We actually have to punish the government for not allowing us to bring in aid,” Haley said.

Justin Lynch, The Associated Press

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