US troops deployed in Gabon amid fears of violence in Congo

Libreville: The United States has started deploying troops in Gabon amid escalating tension over violence and protests as the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is scheduled to announce the results of the Presidential elections on Sunday.

Gabon is a Central African country located along the Atlantic coast, bordered by Congo on the east and south.

Al Jazeera quoted US President Donald Trump as informing his Senators on Friday that the first leg of the US troops, which included around 80 soldiers, arrived in the Central African country on Wednesday.

The President also stated that the move was undertaken to protect the US citizens and diplomatic facilities, currently staying in Congo, from the violence that may trigger in the Congolese capital after the election results are declared.

“The first of these personnel arrived in Gabon on January 2, 2019, with appropriate combat equipment and supported by military aircraft,” Trump’s letter to Congress read.

“Additional forces may deploy to Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the Republic of the Congo, if necessary for these purposes,” the letter stated.

“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,” the US President further mentioned.

The Congolese Election Commission is scheduled to announce the election results of the Presidential elections on December 6. However, it has said that there could be a delay in the announcement due to a slow arrival of tally sheets.

Voters in the Congo exercised their franchise on December 30, last year, to select a new successor of the incumbent President Joseph Kabila.

Presidential elections in the country took place after a long span of 17 years. The nation is looking to a peaceful transition of power, as continuing conflict in provinces like North Kivu, Ituri and Kasai displaced over 1.7 million people in 2018.