The US has deployed approximately 80 troops to Gabon to potentially assist US citizens, personnel and diplomatic facilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo if violent protests over elections threaten their security, President Donald Trump told Congress in a letter Friday.
Most voters in Congo went to the polls Sunday — after more than two years of delays and countless protests — to elect the successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power for 18 years. But the election’s credibility has come under suspicion after ongoing delays in reporting the results.
“The first of these personnel arrived in Gabon on January 2, 2019, with appropriate combat equipment and supported by military aircraft,” Trump’s letter to Congress read. “Additional forces may deploy to Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the Republic of the Congo, if necessary for these purposes.”
“These deployed personnel will remain in the region until the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed,” the letter continued.
Trump said he sent the letter to inform Congress in order to be consistent with the War Powers Resolution. The move marks the first major deployment of US troops in a potential contingency operation under acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
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