EU troops distribute newspapers in Congo
By Honor Mahony
EU troops in Congo have had to resort to distributing newspapers among a sceptical population wondering what they are doing in their country.
The EU force, known as EUFOR, on Monday (14 August) gave out the first edition of its own information newspaper, known as La Paillote after the straw huts which often serve as open air pubs.
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"Inside it's explained who we are and what our duties are", said a spokesperson for EUFOR, according to German news agency DPA.
The newspaper, which will appear every Monday and has a print run of some 55,000, is to try and counter the widespread belief among Congolese that the troops are there to support the current president Joseph Kabila.
The EU sent around 2,200 troops to the region to oversee elections at the end of July but drew criticism from local politicians for its weak mandate, the fact that it was not present in the troubled eastern part of the country, and the fact that many soldiers were stationed in neighbouring Gabon.
The results of the elections are expected later this month with the 30 percent of the votes already counted showing the incumbent to have an absolute majority.
However, the elections, which were the first democratic polls in over four decades, have been overshadowed by allegations of fraud.