The U.N. has prepared a plan for a three-year phased withdrawal of the world body’s biggest peacekeeping force from the Congo (DRC), according to a U.N. report. The government of the sprawling, mineral-rich Central African country has called for the 22,000 U.N. peacekeepers in the country, known as MONUC, to depart Congo sooner – in 2011. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report to the Security Council says President Joseph Kabila had asked the U.N. to submit a proposal by June – the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence from Belgium – for withdrawing MONUC. U.N. diplomats have said privately that Kabila is eager to demonstrate before next year’s elections that he is not dependent on U.N. blue helmets to provide security. But Ban made clear that Congo’s army and police are not yet up to the task in the country’s turbulent east. (Reuters)

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