The United Nations Security Council has extended the mission of its peacekeeping troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

New York - The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday decided to extend by one year its MONUSCO peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to provide aid ahead of November's national elections.

The 15-member Security Council unanimously decided that MONUSCO- the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - “shall support the organisation and conduct of national, provincial and local elections, through the provision of technical and logistical support as requested by the Congolese authorities”.

Presidential and legislative elections in the DRC are scheduled for November, and President Joseph Kabila is expected to run for a second term.

The resolution stressed “that the successful holding of timely, inclusive, peaceful, credible and transparent elections, in accordance with the constitution and international standards, is a key condition for the consolidation of democracy, national reconciliation”.

In early June, DRC lawmakers approved a bill to hold November's elections in a single round - an idea opposition parties have rejected, saying it could undermine the legitimacy of the elected president.

MONUSCO's main mandate remains to protect the civilian population, in a country where armed groups and soldiers are blamed for widespread instability, attacks and mass rape.

On Friday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said up to 170 people were recently raped between June 10-12 in Nyakiele and Abala in the eastern parts of the DRC.

In March, a report by UN experts denounced human rights violations in the DRC, concluding that “on a massive scale, women have been victimised by sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict that has plagued and in some parts of the country continues to plague the DRC”.

MONUSCO is one of the largest UN peacekeeping operations in the world with 20 000 uniformed personnel. - Sapa-AFP