The recently signed East African Community (EAC) protocol on defence co-operation by the bloc’s Heads of State, will cement the defence pact in the region, a top official in the EAC Ministry has said.
This was said Wednesday by Amb. George William Kayonga, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, during a news conference at the ministry’s premises.
He was briefing the media on the outcomes of the joint communiqué of the 10th extraordinary summit of EAC Heads of State.
“The Protocol replaces a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that has been there for some time regarding the cooperation between partner states in the defence sector. With this protocol in place, the EAC partner countries stand to fortify their mutual pact in defence,” he explained.
The MoU was signed in 1998 and revised in 2001. It has specific provisions for areas of co-operation which include visits and exchange of information to which sports and culture is encompassed, joint military trainings, joint operations and technical cooperation among the region’s defence forces.
Kayonga said the defence protocol is in line with article 17 of the EAC constitution which stipulates that partner states shall negotiate and conclude a mutual defence pact which is a new undertaking to intervene and be aware of sovereignty of the territorial integrity of the EAC bloc.
During the just concluded summit held over the weekend in Arusha, Tanzania the EAC Heads of State signed the protocol on co-operation in defence.
The summit directed that the protocol be ratified and instruments of ratification n deposited with the Secretary General by 30th November 2012 and that the negotiations on the mutual defence pact commence immediately thereafter.
Kayonga noted that the defence protocol is different from the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) which is a constituent organization of the African Standby Force (ASF) and which falls under the African Union (AU).
“They are not related because the protocol on cooperation on defence is for five EAC partner states; EASF is an AU body which involves other nations that are not in the EAC bloc,” he said.
He cited an example of Tanzania which does not belong to EASF yet it’s a member of EAC partner countries.
Currently EASF is composed of 10 member States; Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
The purpose of the force is to carry out, in a timely manner, the functions of maintenance of peace and security, as mandated by the Peace and Security Council of the AU in accordance with the Constitutive Act of the AU.
By Frank Kanyesigye, The New Times