June 22, 1997 in Nation/World

U.N. Security Council Considers Dispatching Troops To Congo

Associated Press
 

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked the Security Council on Saturday to authorize a multinational force for the Republic of the Congo to prevent a resurgence of fighting.

The 15-member council discussed the request during a special meeting Saturday afternoon but took no decision, pending consultations with potential troop contributing countries and the Congolese factions.

After briefing the council, Annan told reporters that the members “agreed with me that the situation is urgent and we should do whatever we can to assist” the Congolese.

“So we will be consulting the governments in the region who have indicated they are prepared to contribute to a force to try and stabilize the situation and ensure that there is a cease-fire,” Annan said.

Fighting flared in the central African nation on June 5, after President Pascal Lissouba tried to disarm a militia led by former dictator Gen. Denis Sassou-Nguesso.

With the capital Brazzaville in shambles from the fighting, the warring sides agreed to a cease-fire last week, then extended it for another seven days on Friday.

But the pullout of French forces, expected to be completed Sunday, is expected to leave a power vacuum that both sides may be tempted to fill in the run-up to presidential elections, scheduled for July 27.

Annan recommended at least 1,600 troops, plus military observers, be sent to secure the airport outside Brazzaville.

He said the force could either be sent by African states with Security Council approval or by the United Nations using primarily African units.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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