The US has deployed approximately 80 troops to Gabon to potentially assist US citizens, personnel and diplomatic facilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo if violent protests over elections threaten their security, President Donald Trump told the Congress in a letter on Friday.
Protests erupted in the eastern region of the country after the election was delayed until March in three cities, as the nation faces ongoing ISIS threat and a resurgence of the Ebola virus.
Most voters in Congo went to the polls Sunday after more than two years of delays and countless protests to elect the successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power for 18 years. But the election’s credibility has come under suspicion after ongoing delays in reporting the results.
“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 be deployed to Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the Republic of the Congo, if necessary for these purposes.”
“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 letter continued.
The letter concluded with a call on the DRC’s Independent Electoral to release the results of the commission and respect the “voices and votes” of those who casted their ballots.