Tuesday, May 28, 2013

African Union Pledges Emergency Military Force

AU pledges emergency military force

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 00:00
Caesar Zvayi Deputy Editor
Zimbabwe Herald

THE 21st Ordinary Session of the Africa Union General Assembly ended yesterday with African leaders adopting Vision 2063, a development agenda to guide the continental bloc for the next 50 years.

The leaders also pledged to set up an emergency military force to quell conflicts on the continent, amid concerns that a planned peacekeeping force was still not operational a whole decade since it was mooted.

The African Standby Brigade — a proposed force of 32 500 troops drawn from the continent’s five regional economic communities — is still to come into being since preparations for its inception 10 years ago.

Only two of five regional sections are close to becoming operational.

“This is meant as an interim measure pending the full operationalisation of the African standby force,” AU security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told reporters at the AU headquarters yesterday.

“In the meantime, crises, unconstitutional changes of government, massive violations of human rights are likely to happen here and there, so from a responsible point of view, we say we cannot wait until we get a perfect tool to be used.”

South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia have pledged troops to the proposed interim force, Lamamra said. Funding and troop contributions will come from member states on a voluntary basis.

The AU assembly also considered a report from the AU Peace and Security Council on regional crises, including the conflict in the eastern DRC pitting M23 rebels against government forces. Members of the Great Lakes region met on the sidelines of the summit to discuss the implementation of an agreement signed in February aimed at ending the violence.

In his closing remarks, Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is the current chair of the AU, said rapped unconstitutional regime changes that he identified as a challenge confronting the nation.

The AU summit followed the launch of year-long celebrations for the AU’s Golden Jubilee.

President Mugabe and his delegation returned home yesterday and were met at Harare International Airport by Vice President Joice Mujru, Zanu-PF National Chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, service chiefs and hundreds of jubilant Zanu-PF supporters.

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