The EU force will operate in an “unhealthy climate” as ethnic tensions rise prior to the first free Congolese elections in four decades.
It is largely a franco-german effort when the EU sends 2000 troops to help protect the Democratic Republic of Congo’s July 30 elections.
EU foreign ministers on 12 June 2006 gave a green light to a four month deployment period of the troops of which 780 are German and some 800 are French.
EU special envoy Aldo Ajello warned of an “unhealthy climate” in the campaign with increasing focus on the nationality and ethnic origin of current president Joseph Kabila and other candidates.
The EU force will support an existing UN peacekeeping force, MONUC, of 17000 troops which has been patrolling the fragile peace deal between factions in the 1998-2002 war.
The commanding German general Karlheinz Viereck was confident that the quality of the troops and the logistic set-up would be enable the force to deliver a strong deterrent.
In a comment in the International Herald Tribune, security analysts Jean-Yves Haine and Bastian Giegerich, called the EU operation “largely cosmetic” and “more about European form than African substance”.