The European Union (EU) officially launched the EU mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Thursday in the capital Kinshasa.
The first contingent of the EU mission, known by its French acronym EUFOR RD Congo, landed in Kinshasa on Tuesday. A total of 1,600 EU peacekeepers will be stationed there and in neighboring Gabon to help secure the country's first democratic election in more than 40 years.
At the press conference held in Kinshasa, the commander of the EUFOR RD Congo German General Karl Heinz Viereck declared the official launch of the EU mission.
Aldo Ajello, the EU's special envoy to the Great Lakes region, noted that the EUFOR RD Congo will reinforce the United Nations Mission in the DRC to secure the upcoming elections. He said the mission came to the DRC not for the interests of any individuals or political parties, but to defend the interests of the Congolese people during the electoral period.
General Viereck said the EUFOR RD Congo will intervene in all hostile actions against the elections and collaborate with the Congolese National Police, the Congolese regular army and the UN mission in the DRC.
He said the EUFOR RD Congo, although based in Kinshasa, will be frequently deployed in the eastern part of the country where the UN blue berets need the support from the EU mission.
The first round of the presidential and parliamentary elections in the DRC is scheduled to begin on July 30.
(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2006)