The Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Amb. Raychelle Omamo, who is also the Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers, on 15th February 2014, officially opened the 16th Ordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Eastern Africa region, at the International Peace Support Training Centre (IPSTC), Karen.
In her opening address Amb. Omamo said that, peace and security are the foundations upon which states have developed, improved their citizens’ standards of living and indeed nurtured harmonious coexistence as civilized societies. Therefore, any threat to human peace and security is a major impediment to economic and social development.
She pointed out the challenges facing Sub Saharan Africa in general and the Eastern Africa region in particular over the years where countries have experienced political and social upheavals which have resulted to great loss of human life, destruction of property and disruption of peaceful coexistence. To attest this, she highlighted the recent challenges facing the region peace in South Sudan and the threat of security posed by terrorist groups such as the Al Shabaab.
Amb. Omamo acknowledged the role played by the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) of providing a viable instrument through which crises and threats that disrupt peaceful coexistence could be surmounted collectively not only within the region but anywhere on the continent at large. This is the promise embedded in the operationalization of African Standby Force (ASF) and its Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC) of which EASF is a part, she added.
Currently, the topmost priority is the attainment of EASF Full Operational Capability (FOC) by 2015. Amb. Omamo was positive that this can be attained through subsequent Command Post Exercises (CPXs) and Field Training Exercises (FTXs) as demonstrated in the attainment of the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) towards the end of 2009.
She assured members that, the Council of Ministers will deliberate on the report and recommendations made by the Chiefs of Defence Staff on the structural, administrative issues confronting EASF and the strategic review carried out by the secretariat, bearing in mind the declaration made by the AU Ministers of Defence in Addis in January, 2014 in response to the comprehensive assessment of the ASF by the independent panel of experts. This will ensure that EASF is configured in a manner that is congruent with continental aspirations.
In her concluding remarks, Amb. Omamo assured the Council of Ministers of full commitment and unwavering personal support of his Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and that of the government of Kenya to the objective of EASF and the ASF. She further expressed gratitude to the EASF’s Partners who over the years have contributed significantly to the development of the organization.
Present during the ceremony were Hon. Ministers of Defence and Security and Chiefs of Defence Staff from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia and Sudan, Principal Secretary for Defence Amb. Monica Juma, Commissioner for Peace and Security, Amb. Smail Chergui, Director EASFCOM, Maj Gen (Rtd) Cyrille Ndayirukiye, Vice Chief of Defence Forces, Lt. Gen Samson Mwathethe, members of the Diplomatic Corps among other invited guests.
AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Amb Smail Chergui giving his speech.
Chief of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces General Katumba Wamala (Left), escorted by KDF’s Chief of Strategic Plans,and Policy Brigadier Kibuchi (Right) arriving at International Peace Support Training Centre, Karen.
Principal Secretary for Defence Amb Monica Juma and the Vice Chief of Defence Forces Lieutenant General Samson Mwathethe during the meeting.
Cabinet Secretary for Defence Raychelle Omamo in a group photo with the participants.