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German parliament backs Congo mission

BERLIN – The German parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the government’s plan to deploy German troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo during its July election, despite public scepticism about the mission.

Members of the Bundestag, the lower house of the Ge

rman parliament, approved the mission with 440 votes in favour, 135 against and six abstentions.

Germany, which is supplying some 780 troops for the mission to maintain order during Congo’s July 30 election, will lead the European Union force from headquarters in Potsdam, Germany. France will command the troops on the ground.

Some 16 EU nations will contribute troops and equipment for the four-month mission. The troops will be deployed in Congo and along the borders in neighbouring countries.

EU diplomats in Brussels said the bloc’s foreign ministers were expected to give the formal go-ahead to the mission at a meeting in Luxembourg on June 12, with the first deployment of troops due a few days later.

A survey by polling group Forsa for Stern magazine showed on Wednesday that 57 percent of Germans oppose the mission.

The election in Congo is meant to draw a line under a five-year war and humanitarian crisis which involved six neighbouring countries and killed at least 4 million people. The vote will be the first multi-party poll in over four decades. — Reuter

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