EU troops in Congo ready to use 'deadly force'

13th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 June 2006, BRUSSELS - European Union troops to be deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo will focus on deterrence to protect national elections but are also ready to use "deadly force," the head of the military mission said Tuesday.

13 June 2006

BRUSSELS - European Union troops to be deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo will focus on deterrence to protect national elections but are also ready to use "deadly force," the head of the military mission said Tuesday.

"If deterrence fails ... we will in the end also fight against anyone spoiling the elections," the commander of the operation, German General Karlheinz Viereck, told reporters in Brussels.

"We can use force, if necessary even deadly force," he stressed.

EU foreign ministers on Monday gave the formal go-ahead to the bloc's military operation in Congo, with the deployment of some 2,000 troops in the country expected to be completed before the first round of national elections to be held on July 30.

European forces will have "enough fighting equipment," Viereck said, adding that he wants the mission's professionality to be visible all over the country.

"We want to show the Congolese people that we are able to safeguard free elections," he underlined.

Viereck said that EU troops will not be restricted to Kinshasa but be deployed all over the country if troubles arise.

However, EU forces will not go to Eastern Congo where a 17,000- strong UN mission is trying to help the Congolese army control roaming militia groups.

The general also stressed that the mission is purely military and will not foreshadow any long-term EU presence.

"We are not going there to build up Congo in the long-run," said Viereck, adding that United Nations peacekeepers already in Congo will stay after EU troops have left in November.

According to EU officials working in the region, final results in the election, the first multi-party elections in 40 years, are also expected for November.

A total of 20 EU member-states plus Turkey have agreed to take part in the German-led EU operation. Germany and France will be the main troop contributors, with Berlin sending 780 troops and Paris some 800.

Advance units of the European force have begun arriving in Congo to prepare for the arrival of the main body of troops. Some 800 troops will be stationed in Congo, and around 1,200 will be on standby in neighbouring Gabon.

Costs for the joint military EU operation are expected to amount to 16.7 million euros (20.7 million dollars).

The EU also conducted a military operation in Congo's war-torn Bunia province in 2003 on the basis of a UN request.

DPA

Subject: German news

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