Home | News    Monday 11 April 2005

East African nations to establish standby peacekeeping force for crises

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Apr 11, 2005 (AP) — East African leaders Monday agreed to set up a 5,500-strong rapid reaction force to help end wars and civil conflicts on the continent.

The East African brigade will be part of the African Union’s 15,000-strong African Standby Force and should be ready by June 2006.

It will deploy on the orders of the A.U.’s Peace and Security Council in an effort to cut dependance on Western countries in peacekeeping and peace-enforcing operations in the continent.

"This is critical for peace and stability in our region," said Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, whose country is one of 11 contributing to the East African force. "We are still not out of the woods as far as conflict is concerned."

Leaders and officials from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somali, Sudan , Comoros, Eritrea, Rwanda, Madagascar, Kenya and the Seychelles signed a deal Monday outlining the force’s legal and policy details together with sources for its U.S. $2.5 million annual budget.

Five regions from Africa will contribute to the African Standby Force that will offer military expertise to political interventions and military observer missions, according to the A.U.

"An African standby force capable of intervention in short notice to save human lives and avert destruction to property is a principle we subscribe to and wish to pursue with vigor," Meles said. "Our vision for economic development and social progress for our countries and peoples will remain elusive until we secure peace, security and stability."

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