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France to train DR Congo ‘rapid intervention’ police

KINSHASA, March 24 (AFP) – French police experts will train a new rapid intervention police force of 500 men in Democratic Republic of Congo under an agreement signed Wednesday with the DRC government.

“This is part of a bigger programme which will see dozens of Congolese police officers trained by France this year,” French ambassador to Kinshasa, Georges Serre, said at the signing ceremony.

The 500 DRC officers, divided into three companies, are being trained in a scheme which began on February 16 and will be completed on May 7, learning how to maintain order with non-lethal weapons and respect for civil rights.

The instructors come from France’s gendarmerie (the police wing of the defence ministry), assisted by nine DRC policemen with prior training in Senegal and Cameroon.

Serre said the first DRC rapid intervention battalion consists of members of former warring factions in the vast country, which now has a transitional government including ex-rebels due to pave the way for elections in June 2005.

Some police officers taking part come from the eastern towns of Goma and Bukavu and Gbadolite and Gemena in the northwest, both of which have until recently between outside the control of the Kinshasa government.


                                                              Subject: France news