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Peackeepers to Leave DRC Sooner than Expected

The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously in favour of gradually phasing out its peacekeeping operations known as MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The 15-member body voted on Tuesday to draw down peacekeeping forces in the Central African nation about a year earlier than originally scheduled despite continued concerns over violence. The decision was made as the DRC prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections on Wednesday, in which poverty and widespread insecurity are expected to be key issues for voters. Numerous armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and M23, are active in provinces such as North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri in the eastern DRC, where civilians face violence and displacement. Despite concerns over security, Congolese authorities have persistently called for the UN to scale down its presence in the country, saying it has failed to protect civilians from armed groups.