Zuma calls for swift response to African crises
06 November 2013, 16:28
Pretoria - African leaders opened talks on Tuesday in South
Africa to discuss the formation of a rapid-deployment emergency force to
swiftly intervene in crises on the continent.
The idea of the new force is to bridge the gap pending the
coming into operation of the long planned fully-fledged peacekeeping African
Union's African Standby Force.
The aim of the force is "to enable Africa to act
swiftly and independently in response to the urgent security challenges this
continent faces", said President Jacob Zuma. The summit is being attended
by a handful of leaders including those of Chad, Tanzania and Uganda
"This decision came about due to the realisation that
independent and swift African responses to crises that arise on our continent
could not wait while the building blocks of the African Standby Force are
carefully being put in place," he said.
The AU's standby brigade has made little headway since
preparations for a proposed force of 32 500 troops and civilians drawn from the
continent's five regions started a decade ago.
"We believe that the time has come that African leaders
must be able to act in the interim – swiftly, decisively and when needed,"
The AU was criticised for not responding fast enough to the
crisis in Mali after the military seized power in a coup in March 2012.
African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises
"We need to ensure that we are not helpless or slow to
respond without the help of external partners," said Zuma.
"Africa can, and has the capacity and the means to act
swiftly and decisively," he added. "All what we need is to better
He expressed the hope that by end of this year there will be
"a mechanism that can breathe life into our aspirations for African
ownership and leadership in immediately and urgently responding to security
challenges faced by this great continent".
The meeting is being attended by countries that have said
they are willing to contribute to the force. It was not immediately clear how
many countries have so far pledged troops to the new force.
The new force will go by the name the African Capacity for Immediate
Response to Crises.