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Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK
Congo rejects UN co-ordinator
Child on Kamina Island near Kinshasa
Congo is facing a growing humanitarian crisis
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has rejected the nomination of a British official as the country's UN humanitarian co-ordinator.

The official, Matthew Kahane, works for the UN Development Programme.

BBC UN correspondent Greg Barrow says the UN Security Council has been baffled by the refusal, for which no reason was given.

The individual nominated is an outstanding candidate and we urge the government to revise its position

US ambassador James Cunningham
And the council said that while important progress has been made towards restoring peace to the war-torn country, both government and rebels are moving too slowly towards withdrawing their forces.

It reserved its strongest criticism for one of the rebel groups, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), over its failure to demilitarise the country's second city, Kisangani.

"The council finds its unacceptable that more than one year after its demand the RCD has failed to comply with it," Chinese ambassador Wang Yingfar, the council president, said.

Ugandan- and Rwandan-backed rebels have been fighting government troops, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe since 1998.

Alternative list

The acting American ambassador to the UN, James Cunningham, said he would urge President Joseph Kabila to reverse the decision to reject Mr Kahane.

President Kabila at United Nations
President Kabila gave no reason for the rejection
Mr Cunningham said the lack of a coordinator made it harder to raise money to meet the needs of the Congolese people, who are facing a growing humanitarian crisis.

A western diplomat told the BBC that Mr Kabila has asked for a list of alternative candidates.

But this is not normal practice for the UN, and instead it seems likely a different individual will be proposed.

Flexing muscles

The Congolese Government has failed to explain its actions, but some diplomats suggest it may be flexing its muscles at a time when it feels vulnerable to takeover by international agencies like the UN.

Despite the ceasefire and progress towards peace, aid workers say that the Democratic Republic of Congo is still suffering from one of Africa's worst humanitarian crises in decades.

Around 1.4 million of its people depend on the World Food Programme to survive and hundreds thousands more are in need of assistance.

See also:

17 Jul 01 | Africa
UN praises Congo advances
04 Jul 01 | Africa
Kabila in peace talks
30 Jun 01 | Africa
Belgium resumes DR Congo aid
26 Jan 01 | Africa
Kabila promises peace efforts
21 Jun 01 | Africa
In pictures: Historic Congo trip
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