The news that the Presidential elections in Congo will go to a run-off between President Joseph Kabila and his rival Jean-Pierre Bemba have sparked three days of fighting in the capital Kinshasa.
It seems as if a tentative agreement has been reached to stop the fighting, and allow the second round of the election to go ahead.
The Congo is home to the UN’s largest peacekeeping mission – 17,000 men who have by and large done a good job of keeping the lid on tensions in the run up to the election. They’ve not been able to react adequately to this week’s conflict, so it’s good to see that the a group of German and Dutch peacekeepers had been waiting in next door Gabon, just in case of any localised upsurge in violence.
This is the kind of model I think should be adopted for the majority of peacekeeping operations – wherever possible, a lightly armed force on the ground in large numbers, with a heavily armed, well trained force waiting in the wings, ready to intervene rapidly in areas of particular trouble.