Solana to examine possible EU Congo mission

7th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

7 March 2006, INNSBRUCK - EU defence ministers meeting in Innsbruck on Tuesday commissioned High Representative Javier Solana to sound out possible troop strengths for a peace mission to Congo.

7 March 2006

INNSBRUCK - EU defence ministers meeting in Innsbruck on Tuesday commissioned High Representative Javier Solana to sound out possible troop strengths for a peace mission to Congo.

Solana should also obtain the agreement of the Congolese government, said German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung at a press conference during the informal talks.

Sources at the meeting said the mission remained highly controversial. There was hardly an EU country willing to make any firm commitment for the operation in the Central African country.

Jung said the ministers had commissioned Solana with finding out possible troop strengths which would be tolerable for the individual members.

Sources said Austria was considering ten to 12 staff officers, and Poland 30 soldiers.

The High Representative should inspect conditions on-site. No-one wanted "a mission imposed from outside." A clear UN mandate was also needed, said Jung.

Recently there were reports of the EU planning to send 1,000 troops during the Congolese elections in June. However, most of the soldiers were to be stationed outside Congo and would only intervene in an emergency.

The United Nations has called on the EU to examine the possibility of support in overseeing the election process and helping MONUC, the Mission of the United Nations in Congo.

MONUC, with 18,600 UN blue-helmet soldiers and civilian workers, is the biggest UN peace mission currently in the world.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June. Last December there was a referendum about the new constitution.

The referendum was the first time the population was freely called to the polls since 1960, when the colonial power Belgium precipitately granted the huge country independence without any preparation.

The 45-year history since then of the Democratic Republic of Congo - which from 1971 to 1997 was named Zaire - has been one of political confusion, bloody power-struggles, civil wars and secession movements.

DPA

Subject: German news

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