About 80 troops arrived in Gabon this week and more may follow, the White House announced in a letter to Congress on Friday.
President Trump said the personnel, who arrived Jan. 2 along with combat equipment and aircraft, are there to help protect U.S. citizens and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa, Congo.
The country had long-delayed elections on Dec. 30, but has yet to release the election results. Trump cited “violent demonstrations” that may occur in reaction to the elections, and a travel advisory issued by the State Department in mid-December cited violent crime and civil unrest, including violence at protests and armed conflict in certain regions.
“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 states.
The country cut off Internet service, reportedly to stymie speculation about the results, the Associated Press reported, leading to calls from both religious and political organizations to release the results.
“This being a very sensitive, a very tense period, we are concerned that these efforts to silence dissent could backfire considerably when the results are announced,” a spokeswoman for the U.N. human rights office, Ravina Shamdasani. “We are watching carefully, and we are calling on all sides to refrain from the use of violence.”