KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- African defense
ministers meeting in the Ugandan capital Kampala on Tuesday agreed
to set up a rapid response force that will be deployed anywhere on
the continent where violence erupts.
The ministers agreed to meet in October to develop operations
budget and cell activities, second officers to the African Union
(AU) early warning systems and pledged capabilities.
The ministers were meeting under the African Capacity for
Immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC) Volunteer Nations, an interim
multinational initiative set up in November 2013 for military
interventions as and when the need arises on the continent.
The ministers and government representatives from Algeria,
Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, South
Africa, Niger, Sudan and Uganda decided that at the next meeting
they will forward their recommendations to the heads of state for
The force will act in the interim before the permanent African
Standby Force (ASF) comes in place by 2018.
Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, urged the
member countries to contribute to the peace fund to ensure the
effectiveness of the ACIRC.
"Key issues include strengthening voluntarism spirit, preparing
your forces and resources for the deployment," said Chergui.
"This will ensure that we demonstrate in concrete terms to our
colleagues and to the international community of our commitment to
sustainable peace through our own resources," he said.
AU has had challenges funding its peacekeeping missions, forcing
it to depend on external funders like the European Union which
supported the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
Chergui said the coming into place of the rapid response force
before the ASF would send a political message that the continent is
committed to finding internal solutions to problems.
Chergui said it will also show that Africa is ready to defend its
security interests without depending on external support.
"The withdrawal of Western countries from African conflict
management after the disasters encountered in Somalia in 1993 and
Rwanda in 1994, strengthens the ACIRC initiative."
The deployment of the force would be a responsibility of the AU
Peace and Security Council in consultations with volunteering
Africa faces a series of security challenges ranging from
internal conflicts, violent extremism, and natural calamities like
drought and floods.
The on-going conflicts in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo pose a challenge as hundreds of
civilians continue to be killed and thousands flee for safety.
"We are all aware of the continued insecurity and conflict that
continues to plague our continent, but our resolve as a region to
forge peace remains total," Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda’s Prime
Minister, told the one-day meeting.
"Cumulatively, these efforts will create a more conducive
environment for the advancement of our people and the fulfillment of
their long cherished dream of well-being," he added.
According to experts, at least 30 million U.S. dollars are
required from member states to be able to deploy one battle group
and force headquarters for the financial year 2017/18.
Each voluntary nation is required to contribute 12,000 dollars
annually for ACIRC operations and administrative matters.
"ACIRC is premised on voluntarism that people can work together
to stem out trouble when it happens. It depends on those willing to
volunteer to help," Gen. David Muhoozi, Uganda’s Chief of Defense
Forces, told Xinhua in an interview.
Burundi sends over 1,800 soldiers to Somalia’s peacekeeping
BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- A total of 1,819 Burundian troops
of the 44th and 45th battalions have started to replace the 38th and
39th battalions serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia
(AMISOM), the Burundian army spokesman said Tuesday.
"Some troops have already departed to Somalia, but a big number
of them flew today morning to Somalia," said Burundian Army
Spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza.
Baratuza said the work of Burundian troops serving in the AMISOM
is "commendable," while their "successful" mission faces several
Burundi is a main contributor of troops in the AMISOM.
The failure to pay Burundian peacekeepers’ salaries for 12 months
had previously forced the Burundian government to threaten to
withdraw its troops from Somalia.
The salary arrears issue was only solved following the visit,
earlier this year, of Commissioner for Peace and Security for the
African Union (AU) Smail Chergui.
Since December 2007, the east African nation has deployed six
rotating battalions comprising about 5,500 troops in Somalia.
Ethiopia’s September UNSC presidency to focus on African
ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) --
Ethiopia’s presidency of United
Nations Security Council (UNSC) in September will focus on
resolution of conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan and the Great Lakes
Speaking to Xinhua on Tuesday, Meles Alem, Spokesperson of
Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), said as part of
efforts to resolve these conflicts the country will host a meeting
in September 7 and 8 in Addis Ababa of the UNSC member states.
Ethiopia is already mediating in particular the conflicts in
South Sudan and Somalia through the regional body Intergovernmental
Authority on Development (IGAD), of which all three countries are
Ethiopia will also host a meeting in September 20 on efforts to
boost UN peacekeeping forces numbers and capability.
The East African nation is currently the largest peacekeeping
contributing nation in Africa and is among top four peacekeeping
forces contributing nations globally.
These include the UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), UN
Mission in Liberia (UNML), UN Mission in the Republic of South
Sudan(UNMISS), and UN Operations in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) as well as
the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in which Ethiopia
is providing all of the 4,400 troops deployed in Abyei, between
Sudan and South Sudan.
Ethiopia will assume the presidency on the United Nations
Security Council next month from fellow UN Security council member
Ethiopia took its seat as a non-permanent member of the United
Nations Security Council (UNSC) in January after securing 185 votes
out of the 190 vote election in June last year.
The non-permanent seat at the UNSC is given for a two year period
for 10 of the 15 member states represented in the UN body, with
Ethiopia expected to serve the 2017-18 period.
This is the third stint for Ethiopia being a UN Security Council
non-permanent member having served on two other periods from 1968-69
Rwanda pledges more support to UN peace keeping
KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) --
The Rwandan government on Tuesday
pledged continued support to the United Nations peacekeeping
operations around the World.
Rwanda’s minister of defence James Kabarebe made the commitment
while speaking at the UN peace operations preparatory meeting in the
capital city of Kigali.
More than 100 delegates from UN peacekeeping troops and finance
contributing countries participate in the two-day meeting, which
kicked off on Tuesday, to discuss modalities to improve
Delegates are discussing issues like protecting those at risk and
early warning and rapid deployment as selected themes and so on.
Rwanda has made significant efforts to strengthen peacekeeping
operations within Africa and outside, said the defence minister,
adding that Rwanda is committed to providing more support to the
peacekeeping operations around the World as required by the UN.
Rwanda has provided support to UN peace operations including
troops and police and equipment to bolster UN peacekeeping force,
according to him.
The preparatory conference in Rwanda sets to prepare ground for
the 2017 UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference due to take
place in Vancouver, Canada from Nov. 14 to 15 this year, according
The forum has brought together more than 100 participants from UN
Peacekeeping Operations troops/police contributing countries and
financial contributing countries.
The 2017 UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference in Canada
is set to build on the successes of the ones previously held in New
York City, the United States and London, the United Kingdom, to
review current contributions by UN members, and more importantly,
secure new pledges to meet the identified needs of UN peacekeeping
operations, according to a statement issued by Rwanda’s defense
ministry ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.
The top five troop and police contributing countries to UN
peacekeeping missions are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and
Rwanda presently maintains over 1,800 troops as part of United
Nations Mission in South Sudan. Over 600 Rwandan police officer.