East African defence ministers began a meeting in Nairobi on Monday to seek ways of stabilizing the war-ravaged East Africa region
Speaking when he officially opened the meeting in Nairobi, Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said Peace and security was vital for fastening economic growth and a solution for Africa’s underdevelopment.
Chinese state news service Xinhua reports he told a two-day conference for Council of Ministers of Defense of the Eastern African region that it is only under a peaceful and secure environment that the continent can be able to address the many developmental challenges as it had the necessary human and natural resources.
“Achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the war against poverty cannot be won unless Africa seriously repackages her strategies for sustainable peace and security for all her people,” Musyoka told the meeting attended by participants from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Comoros, Djibouti, Burundi, Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda.
Musyoka at the same time said it was high time Africa seeks ways and means of solving her own problems instead of relying on the international community to intervene in most of its conflicts.
“In the past, the continent has relied on the international community to intervene in most of its conflicts. But it is now high time for our continent to seek ways and means of solving its own problems,” said Musyoka.
He said there was urgent need to set up an African security infrastructure in the form of African Standby Force (ASF) to pursue the security agenda.
“Peace and security is the central pillar for economic activities to take place.
Unfortunately constant wars and conflicts over a long time in many parts of the continent have led to underdevelopment in Africa,” said Musyoka.
“The goal of peaceful, stable and secure Africa at peace with itself and the world is definitely not outside our reach. Despite its numerous constraints, Africa has the necessary human and natural resources to handle its problems,” added Musyoka.
He noted that it was in light of the challenges of African peace and security that the Protocol establishing the Peace and Security Council was signed at the inaugural Summit of the African Union held in Durban, South Africa in July, 2002.
“To follow in the footsteps of the African Union, the Heads of State of the Eastern Africa region adopted the Policy Framework establishing the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade at the first Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April 2004.
The Director of Eastern Africa Standby Brigade Coordination Mechanism (EASBRICOM), Simon Mulongo, called on African governments to set aside resources for their missions.
The Director said it was not good for the countries to expect support from United Nations when their governments could not support their own missions.
He said EASBRIG stands with the position taken with African Union on the indictment of President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan.
Meanwhile, Musyoka said there is adequate conflict resolution mechanism within Kenya’s Grand Coalition to enable it survive any wrangles and serve Kenyans for a full term.
Musyoka said that no member of the Grand Coalition was willing to quit because the challenge now is to deliver services to Kenyans like employment for the youth, to fight poverty and hunger, insecurity and impunity.
He said it was not appropriate for the former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to call President Mwai Kibaki, for a meeting in Geneva to discuss the progress of the Grand Coalition government.
Musyoka said the UN Secretary General is always welcome to come to Nairobi and have consultations with President Kibaki, saying those leaders who had attended the Serena talks were well placed to meet him in Geneva.