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Regional co-operation key to regional security: Omamo

03 April 2014, 18:10

Nairobi - Regional integration and cooperation is key to enhancing security and building safety in the east African region, Defense secretary Raychelle Omamo has said.

The East Africa Standby Force (EASF) will attain full deployment status by the end of 2014, Kenya's Defense Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo said.

She said the Kenya Defense Force (KDF) has already attained rapid deployment capability which is expected to respond to the conflicts in the region.

"We are therefore working closely with the other troop contributing member states to ensure that the force is operational by the end of this year," Omamo said during media briefing on government achievements in the past year.

Some of the members of the EASF include Rwanda, Seychelles, Ethiopia and Comoros.

She said that by the end of last year, Kenya's defense forces were ranked as the sixth best in Africa and 46th globally.

Omamo noted that the Africa Standby Force should be also fully operational by the end of 2015. Omamo said that Kenya's policy supports Africa to provide solutions to the continent's problems.

"Our strategy relies heavily on multilateralism and constructive collaborations," she said. Omamo added that Kenya's recent execution of the Great Lakes Peace and Development Framework will enable the country to play a big role in regional peace efforts.

"We will intensify efforts to defeat negative forces in the Great Lakes region. We will also cooperate with neighbors in the search for tranquility," she added.

The cabinet secretary noted that Kenya has implemented a modernization strategy that will enable its forces to remain agile.

"So far 10,000 military personnel have received advanced training to ensure that KDF remains a force that is able to react to situations effectively and quickly," she said.

Omamo said that KDF entered Somalia in 2011 in order to preserve Kenya's territorial integrity. "We are stepping up operations in Somalia and we hope 2014 will become a game changer. "

The defense secretary said that KDF's intervention enabled the Somalia's port of Kismayu to be seized from the grip of the Al- Shabaab militants.

She added that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troop contributing countries are lobbying for the increase in the number of soldiers from 17,000 to 20,000.

"They also want to extend AMISOM's mandate by one more year," Omamo said. He said that Kenya will play in a key role in stabilizing Somalia.

"We hope that formal governing structures will be put in areas in Somalia that have been liberated from Al-Shabaab control. These areas should be occupied by returning Somali refugees," she said.

- Xinhua

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