The US military has deployed troops to Gabon, saying they are doing so in case more unrest breaks out in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo following recent contested presidential elections. Observers say the election was marred by serious irregularities. Violent unrest had been ongoing as elections that were meant to be held in 2016, were delayed repeatedly up until this December. Following the election, there had been a media blackout in the country. Now, the election commission has postponed the release of the results, raising fears of vote rigging.
Voters in Congo went to the polls to elect a successor to president Kabila, who has been in power for 18 years. The election’s credibility has come under suspicion from ongoing delays in reporting of the results.
More than 16,000 U.N. troops remain stationed in the country as part of a mission to maintain stability.
US president Trump told Congress that the first of about 80 troops had arrived in Gabon to protect US citizens and diplomatic facilities if violence breaks out in DRC’s capital Kinshasa.
“The first of these personnel arrived in Gabon on January 2, 2019, with appropriate combat equipment and supported by military aircraft,” “Additional forces may deploy to Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the Republic of the Congo, if necessary for these purposes,” Trump’s letter to Congress read. “These deployed personnel will remain in the region until the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed.”