Enhancing Peace and Security in the Eastern Africa Region

Eastern Africa Chiefs of Defence Committed to Fast-track Regional Force

EASF RetreatThe 9th Extraordinary Session of the Eastern Africa Committee of Defence Staff (EACDS) of the Eastern Africa region kicked off on 23rd April 2014, in Kigali, Rwanda.

The two-day meeting brings together Chiefs of Defence and Security from the 10 Member States of the Eastern Africa Standby Force to address critical issues necessary for attainment of Full Operational Capability (FOC) by December 2014.

In his opening remarks, Hon Gen. James Kabarebe, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Rwanda, who was the Guest of Honour, observed the appropriate timing of the meeting, a period of Rwanda’s 20th commemoration of the 1994 genocide. He urged the Chiefs of Defence to utilise the lessons learnt from the Rwanda’s experience as a guide for the region in actualising the “Never Again” and “Responsibility to Protect” the people in the region.

Hon Kabarebe noted with appreciation, the significant progress so far made by the Africa Standby Force in putting in place organs for conflict prevention, intervention and peace building, and the willingness of EASF Member States to deal with security threats in the region.

The outgoing Chairperson of the Committee of EACDS, Gen (Dr) Julius W Karangi, Chief of Defence Forces of the Republic of Kenya, in his opening statement, assured the People of the Republic of Rwanda of the commitment of the regional force and other arrangements manage situations of mass murder, genocide and other threats in future. He stressed the important responsibility of Chiefs of Defence in ensuring readiness of EASF to attain the necessary threshold and to facilitate EASF empowerment and realisation of the region’s collective aspirations.

Gen. Karangi re-affirmed the commitment of the Government of Kenya in supporting the mandate of EASF and of other regional Heads of State, as demonstrated in the recent IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government which authorised “prompt deployment of a Protection and Deterrent Force (PDF) in South Sudan”. Security threats in South Sudan “threatens not only internal harmony in the country but also the tranquility prevailing in the rest of the Eastern Africa region”, underlined Gen. J Karangi.

The newly appointed Director of EASFCOM, Amb Chanfi Issimail, expressed his gratitude to the Chiefs of Defence for bestowing upon him the great honour to lead EASF at this crucial moment. Emphasizing his full commitment to the organization, he noted the task at hand for the Chiefs, to deliberate on critical issues in order to provide guidance and chart the way forward for fast-tracking EASF’s Full Operational Capability (FOC) within the stipulated time.

The EACDS meeting will conclude on 24 April with recommendations to next level of EASF Policy Organs, Council of Ministers of Defence and Security due to open on 25 April 2014.

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