Bavarian election to delay troops en route to Afghanistan
The Local · 4 May 2008, 10:13
Published: 04 May 2008 10:13 GMT+02:00
A report in weekly news magazine Der Spiegel suggests that domestic political considerations of the centre-right Bavarian party, namely supporting their sister party, Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), will hold back the deployment of up to 3,500 soldiers until October.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and defence minister Franz Josef Jung will do so to try to avoid unpopular headlines ahead of the September Bavaria election.
“This will put the army in a tight situation,” the magazine comments.
German troops in Afghanistan are being weakened by insurgent attacks, while lack of enthusiasm among the German public for the deployment means politicians are careful about extending – and in this case even strengthening – the operation.
This has led to criticism from allies in Afghanistan, with leading NATO members questioning the German will to participate fully and take on operations which risk the lives of soldiers.
The CSU has been losing support in its usually safe home state of Bavaria according to polls, and will be fighting the election without its previous long-term leader Edmund Stoiber.
Bavarian CSU politicians have already refused to send policemen to Afghanistan to train local police officers, for fear of attacks.
They stuck to that refusal even in the light of pressure from the federal government, which had already promised international allies up to 60 officers.