UNITED NATIONS - Congo might expel leaders of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in retaliation for increased pressure on the nation's army to halt violence against civilians, the Congolese ambassador to the United Nations said.
The Security Council is scheduled to vote Monday on a draft resolution demanding that Congo's army "immediately take appropriate measures to protect civilians," after reports of murders and rapes by soldiers. Measures would include enhanced training, enforcement of military discipline, and steps to prevent the promotion of anyone associated with abuses.
"The Security Council has no right to do this," Ambassador Atoki Ileka said in an interview. "This is totally unacceptable. We will reject this resolution and we will have a crisis. We can expel the leadership" of the U.N. force.
The resolution, still being negotiated, would extend the mandate of the peacekeeping mission for six months.
Ileka also objected to the text's demand that Congo's army "immediately stop recruiting and using children." He said such demands would violate Congo's status-of-forces accord with the United Nations.
Conflict in Congo has killed more than five million people since the violence from Rwanda's 1994 genocide spilled over the border. The United Nations has 18,600 soldiers and civilian police in the country.
The expulsion threat followed a report by the group Human Rights Watch that the U.N.-supported military operation in Congo's eastern region had resulted in 1,400 civilian deaths this year, including 732 by Congolese and Rwandan troops fighting rebel militias.
Ileka said he respected Human Rights Watch but said its opposition to the defeat of Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo was "prolonging the suffering of the Congolese people." He said that "further collateral damage in a short period of time" was preferable to allowing the war to continue indefinitely.