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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 April 2006, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
EU force to help DR Congo peace
Polling station
DR Congo's infrastructure has been wrecked by war and misrule
The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to send 1,500 European Union peacekeeping troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The EU soldiers will form part of the international peacekeeping force in the country ahead of elections due in June.

The general elections will be the first fully democratic elections in DR Congo for 40 years, but rebel forces remain active in the east of the country.

EU troops will form a rapid reaction force, mostly based outside DR Congo.

Major Hans Reichen, the spokesman for the UN Mission in the Congo (Monuc), told the BBC's Network Africa programme he welcomed the new deployment, which would help bring peace to the country.

"Having a rapid reaction force enables us to warn any possible spoiler that we will be able to react if he tries to stop the ongoing peace process in DR Congo," Major Reichen said.

The French Ambassador to the UN, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, told Reuters news agency a few hundred of the EU soldiers would be stationed around the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, with others in nearby Gabon and in Europe.

The force's four-month mandate would begin just before the elections, Mr de la Sabliere said.

The date has still to be confirmed, but is expected in late June or early July.

The current 17,000 peacekeeping force in DR Congo is the world's largest.


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