East African regional force in offing

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Addis Ababa, 15 July 2014 (WIC) - A 5,000-strong East African regional standby force, comprising of soldiers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, Djibouti, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Comoros and Burundi will be ready for deployment by year end.

Representatives of the 10 East African countries contributing troops to the regional initiative are presently in Uganda, attending a security sector reform course in the capital, Kampala.

Major general Francis Okello, commandant of rapid deployment capability centre, says the force will be in place one year before the African Union deadline and will comprise of one battalion backed by tank units.

"If such a force was already in place, some of the conflicts taking place in the region would not be taking place. It would have been the one deployed in South Sudan and Somalia," Okello told representatives at the summit.

Currently Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Ethiopia have troops keeping peace in Somalia under the auspices of the AU. Uganda has also deployed peace keeping troops in South Sudan.

African leaders resolved to establish an African standby force at the AU summit in 2004, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Leaders from Africa's five regions were expected to create standby regional forces by December 2015, with the view of forming an African standby force.

"The force is indeed necessary," said East Africa standby force co-ordination mechanism's joint chief of staff, Brigadier General Tai Gituai. "Terrorism, youth radicalisation and extremism, rising militias and ethnic violence make it absolutely imperative for Africa to build such a force." (theafrica report)