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DR Congo hails UN approval of 'offensive' peacekeeprs

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday hailed the UN move to create the first-ever "offensive" peacekeeping brigade to fight rebel groups in the country's restive east.

"The DRC welcomes this vote, which marks a decisive turning point for re-establishing peace and security in the Kivu" regions, Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo said in a statement.

He was referring to the North and South Kivu provinces in the resource-rich east of the country, which has been gripped by conflict for more than two decades.

The launching of the brigade "is the beginning of the end of armed groups and sends a very clear signal to those supporting them," Ponyo said.

On Thursday, the UN Security Council unanimously approved the creation of a brigade of more than 2,500 troops with orders to "neutralise" and "disarm" armed groups in eastern DR Congo.

The intervention brigade and surveillance drones to monitor the DR Congo's borders with neighbours accused of backing the rebels will be operating by July, according to UN officials.

The force will launch UN peacekeeping operations into a new era, said diplomats who negotiated its preparation.

The resolution's mandate to conduct "targeted offensive operations" has never been given to a peacekeeping mission before, diplomats said.

The brigade and drones are part of a new UN campaign to end conflict in DR Congo's border regions with Rwanda and Uganda. Eleven African nations signed a UN-brokered accord last month pledging not to interfere in the affairs of their neighbours.

Rwanda, a temporary African member of the Security Council, joined the other 14 members in voting for the resolution.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130329/dr-congo-hails-un-approval-offensive-peacekeeprs