EU troops to monitor Congo election security

27th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

27 January 2006, BRUSSELS — The European Union has backed a UN proposal to send troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo to maintain security during national elections later this year.

27 January 2006

BRUSSELS — The European Union has backed a UN proposal to send troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo to maintain security during national elections later this year.

However, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the exact details of the mission are still up for discussion.

"A lot still needs to be clarified before member states can make a decision," Ferrero-Waldner said on Thursday.

The United Nations urged the EU at the start of January to reinforce the UN peacekeeping force MONUC during the Congolese elections later this year.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt also discussed the proposal in New York with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week.

The EU has since indicated it is prepared to send troops, but to clear up the remaining issues an evaluation commission will be sent to the Congo next week.

The co-ordinator of UN peacekeeping missions, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, will also discuss the mission with EU officials in Brussels on Friday.

In diplomatic circles, it has been said that the UN wants to send 1,500 extra troops to the Congo, but there has been no official confirmation of this figure.

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner told news agency AFP that the reinforcements must be primarily European.

"It is important that Africa sees that all of Europe and not just one country is committed to the situation in the Congo," she said.

Belgian soldiers would only take a limited role in such a mission. The nation's Rwanda Commission has previously advised the federal government against sending troops to former colonies.

Despite the fact that this advice has been played down more recently, it is 100 percent certain that Belgian troops will not take an operational role in the Congo.

Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht will depart for a six-day visit to the Congo on 1 February, newspaper 'Het Gazet van Antwerpen' reported.

On Friday, he will discuss with EU Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel the situation in the Congo in the UN Security Council.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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