Green light for EU Congo peacekeeping mission: At least 10 and up to 14 EU countries could take part in it given so much at stakes in Lumumba's country should it unravel. Britain will help with the planning but would not provide troops said British defence Secretary John Reid, because of its commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq (...)
Announcing the political decision after so much reherrings, the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the "green light" for the mission was given at an EU council of ministers meeting. The United Nations asked the EU at the start of this year to deploy troops to help safeguard Congo's first free presidential and parliamentary vote since its independence in 1961. The UN said its 17,000 peacekeepers already in the Congo are overstretched and need EU support for the coming elections.
And following the go-ahead on Monday,21.03.2006, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his nation is prepared to lead the EU mission despite domestic opposition. France is prepared to take charge in the Congolese capital Kinshasa and Germany will command overall mission headquarters in Potsdam, near Berlin. Both France and Germany are expected to commit 500 troops each to the mission, but are waiting on confirmed commitments from other nations. At least 10 and up to 14 EU countries could take part in the Congo mission. Spain and Portugal would each send 100 soldiers, Sweden up to 50 and Belgium about 40.
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt had earlier said it would be unwise to send Belgian troops to a former colony. He referred to the ill-fated mission to Rwanda in the 1990s when a handful of Belgian troops were killed as ethnic cleansing and violence engulfed the Central African nation.
After a meeting in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo with Congo President Joseph Kabila, Tuesday, March 21, 2006, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that “the international community will do what it can to keep peace during Congo's upcoming elections but the country itself must arrange the vote and accept results.” How enigmatic!
Annan arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a three-day visit just months ahead of elections that are scheduled for June 18 and meant to draw a line under four decades of Mobutu's misrule, a war of aggression by troops from Rwanda, Uganda and Burndi, backed by western multinationals, a genocide of 5 million Congolese and systematic rape, chaos and looting of Congo's natural and mineral resources.
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