German troops arrive in Congo ahead of elections

11th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

11 July 2006, NAIROBI - Around 60 German troops are expected in the Congolese capital Kinshasa later Monday in the first deployment of a German-led European Union force three weeks before the country's first multiparty polls in 45 years.

11 July 2006

NAIROBI - Around 60 German troops are expected in the Congolese capital Kinshasa later Monday in the first deployment of a German-led European Union force three weeks before the country's first multiparty polls in 45 years.

The majority of the 780 German troops will be based in neighbouring Gabon as part of 1,100-strong EU force to boost the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) with some 17,000 men already in the country.

With some 25 million Congolese set to cast their ballots for a new president on July 30, EUFOR soldiers are expected to mainly secure the Kinshasa airport and fly foreign election observers out of the troubled, mineral-rich country in case of an emergency.

A Congolese journalist was murdered by unknown gunmen late Sunday, as political tensions escalate ahead of the landmark polls. At least 13 people have died in clashes since the campaigns started 12e days ago.

But human rights organisations have warned of increased conflict fomented by armed militias in the north-eastern regions where MONUC forces have been carrying out joint military operations with government troops in a bid to flush out and disarm as many armed militias as possible.

Apart from the political minefields that lie ahead, the logistics of organizing an election in a country as big as Western Europe but with only 500 kilometres of paved road or any reliable infrastructure, is no less of a challenge in the war-shattered state.

The elections will formally end a three-year transitional period after the end of a bloody five-year civil war in 2003 that left some 3 million people dead and involved in the armies of seven African nations.

DPA

Subject: German news

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