President Donald Trump to sent 80 military personnel to Gabon to allegedly offer support for U.S. citizens and facilities in case of protests in DRC.
The United States President Donald Trump announced Friday the deployment of U.S. military to Libreville, Gabon, in the face of the possibility of violent demonstrations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is currently awaiting the results of elections that were held on Dec. 30.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Trump reported that about 80 military personnel were deployed "to be in a position to support the security" of U.S. citizens, personnel and diplomatic facilities in capital city Kinshasa.
The U.S. president explained that the mobilization is due to the possibility of violent events taking place in the DRC.
The DRC went to the polls on Dec. 31 that, despite tensions, could constitute the country's first peaceful power transition since independence from Belgium in 1960. More than 39 million people voted to elect a successor to current President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power for 17 years.
Corneille Nangaa, the president of Congo's Independent National Electoral Commission, admitted that only 20% of the votes had been counted three days before Jan. 6, which is the official deadline to publish the election results.
To @POTUS: The US is now using #Gabon as a backdoor to intervene in #DRCongo. While you are there, why not ask the criminal dictatorship of Ali Bongo to free political prisoners like young Hervé Mombo now in life threatening sickness in jail? #FreeGabon #OpGabon @Reuters @nytimes— OpGabon (@OpGabon) January 5, 2019
However, given the slowness in votes counting, both opposition candidates and the ruling coalition candidate have claimed victory before knowing official results.
The electoral campaign has been fraught with violence and at least 10 people have died so far, according to NGO Congolese Association of Access to Justice (ACAJ).
The decision to postpone elections in Beni, Butembo and Yumbi until March has also provoked protests and a call for action in these cities.
Trump confirmed that some U.S. military personnel arrived in Gabon on Jan. 2 with "appropriate combat equipment and supported by military aircraft." The U.S. leader also said that additional military forces could be sent to Gabon, if necessary.
The U.S. military will remain in the region until security in the DRC is such that "its presence is no longer necessary," according to Trump.