22nd Mar 2019

EU Congo mission gets green light from UN

The UN Security Council on Tuesday (25 April) approved an EU military mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo to secure elections in the violence-stricken country due in June.

The unanimous approval by the top UN body comes after the UN in January asked the EU to "make available a deterrent force during the electoral process."

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Since then, the bloc has been struggling to hammer out a plan for a Congo security force of up to 1,450 troops from at least ten EU countries.

The Democratic Republic of Congo will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in June, which should boost the fragile reconstruction process in the African country after a brutal war from 1998 to 2002.

The UN has about 16,000 peacekeeping troops in Congo, with violence in some parts of the country still rampant.

Tuesday's UN resolution formally authorises the EU operation, which is expected to carry the name "Eufor R.D.Congo," to support the UN mission, protect civilians, help guard the capital of Kinshasa's airport and execute limited operations to extract individuals in danger.

Reuters quotes French UN ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere as saying only a few hundred of the EU soldiers would be based around the Congo capital Kinshasa, with others staying on alert outside Congo, both in Africa and in Europe.

The last months saw intense diplomatic wrangling in the EU over the exact composition of the mission, with many member states wary of sending soldiers to the turbulent African state.

Despite criticism from German media and politicians, the German government, led by chancellor Angela Merkel, agreed to provide around one third of the troops for the EU operation.

The military planning will be conducted from a German headquarters in Potsdam, while France will lead the EU forces on the ground.

Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Poland, Spain and Sweden have pledged to contribute to the mission, with the Netherlands also considering participation.

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