East Africa defense chiefs to meet in Kenya
12 February 2014, 21:43
Nairobi - Defense ministers from the East African region are due to meet in Kenya's capital Nairobi on Saturday to seek ways of enhancing peace and security cooperation.
The gathering will be preceded by a meeting of military chiefs on Thursday to discuss effective strategies to strengthen an Eastern African Standby Force (EASF) created by the African Union to promote regional peace and stability.
"All 10 member states are expected to participate in the Policy Organs Meetings to be held in Nairobi. This includes Chiefs of Defense and Security and Ministers of Defense or their representatives," a statement from the Eastern Africa Standby Coordination Mechanism (EASFCOM) said on Wednesday.
The statement said South Sudan, which has been participating as observer, is expected to attend the meetings.
The meeting came after East African leaders last year agreed to set up a 5,500-strong rapid reaction force to help end wars and civil conflicts on the continent on Western countries in peacekeeping and peace-enforcing operations in the continent.
Participants are expected from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Comoros, Eritrea, Rwanda, Madagascar, Kenya and the Seychelles signed a deal on April 11, 2013 in Ethiopia, outlining the force's legal and policy details together with sources for its 2.5 million U.S. dollar annual budget.
EASF is one of the five regional components of the African Standby Force (ASF) established by the African Union for the purpose of containing conflicts and enhancing peace and security on the continent.
It is envisaged that by 2015, these regional blocs will have developed the capacity of their armies to constitute a regional force for the African Union capable of responding to any eventuality.
ASF has five brigades compromising of civilian, military and police components. The brigades are divided among the five Africa's regional blocks of Eastern, Southern, Central, Western and Northern. Progress in establishing full brigades varies from region to region.
ASF's full actualization has been postponed nearly three times; first in 2008, then 2010, 2013 and now has been put to 2015.
Analysts said delay in actualizing ASF has meant that there is no really a deterrent to people with intentions to overthrow governments for instance or take control of sovereign territory.
Rebels have more time to gain ground because of the lengthy nature of time it takes for the Africa Union and the United Nations to agree on the deployment of the peacekeeping forces.
The territorial gains by rebels also create demand for weapons. It also destabilizes the civilian population and wipes out the gains they have made in building local economies. It presents the flow of foreign direct investments.
ASF was meant to be a sort of a rapid reaction force that would have an early warning mechanism that for instance sends an advance party of conflict resolution and peace enforcement experts in a county showing signs of imminent conflict.