US President Donald Trump announced Friday that 80 US military personnel had been deployed to the central African country of Gabon in response to violence in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo centering on its disputed presidential elections.
Trump sent a letter to congressional leaders noting that the first troops of the deployment had arrived in Gabon’s capital of Libreville on Wednesday. The letter notes that further troops may be deployed “if necessary” until the “security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed.”
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which isn’t adjacent to Gabon but is separated by the Republic of the Congo, held on December 30 its first multi-party elections since 1960 and only the second in the nation’s history, having only gained independence from Belgium in 1960. The elections were scheduled for 2016 but postponed for two years following violence in the capital of Kinshasa and confusion about the size of the voting population. They were again postponed in December after an untimely warehouse fire destroyed 8,000 voting machines.
Preliminary results are due to be announced on January 9, with the final results announced on January 15, due to the remote nature of many of the country’s polling stations. However, the fragile peace in place since the disastrous wars that rocked the…