Ready for Action

Gaborone ‑  Africa believes the time is ripe to translate into concrete action the resolutions adopted by Heads of State and Government at the 21st African Union (AU) Summit, which called for African solutions to African problems.

Speaking at the Amani Africa II main planning conference in Gaborone last week, Former President of Guinea, General Sekouba Konate, while appreciating the contribution of its international partners, said Africa could not and should not abandon its responsibility to manage African crises.

The meeting aimed to validate the capacity of the AU to mandate and ensure the rapid deployment capacity of the African Standby Force.

The standby force is a start-up operation that would run as a full multi-dimensional peace support operation. The meeting was also meant to fast-track the effective operationalisation of the force.

Former President Konate paid tribute to African Heads of State for making a landmark decision to equip the AU with such a combat unit, especially considering the violent and resurgent conflicts that undermine the continent’s development efforts while taking a heavy toll on human lives.

The three-day planning conference of the Amani Africa II field training exercise is in line with implementation of the Africa Standby Force Roadmap 3.

“The overall objective of the exercise is to validate the capacity of the AU to mandate and employ a rapid deployment capability of the ASF as a start-up operation and to run a full multi-dimensional peace support operation,” Former President Konate said.

The Gaborone meeting followed the AU Peace and Security Council July decision to operationalise an African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), as a precursor to the ASF.

The decision was taken after an earlier meeting pointed out that lack of a force such as ACIRC could have prevented at least some of the violence that erupted in Mali in the first three months of the year.

As with the African Standby Force, the plan is to have the ACIRC fully functional and operational by 2015.

Former President Konate said without the standby force, the African continent would continue to rely on foreign interventions to resolve its crises; therefore, member states must ensure that they own the combat unit and fund activities designed for its effective operationalisation.

A European Union representative, Lieutenant-Colonel Roberto Arcieri, said Amani Africa II  is the most important associated capacity building initiative, which has jointly been adopted as a vehicle to allow the AU to develop the capacity of its standby force by training and evaluating continental peace and support operations.

Such an effort, he said, would complement the superb and historical contribution of African forces to international peacekeeping operations.

Lt-Col Arcieri noted that the peace and security partnership aims to ensure adequate, coherent and sustainable support for the establishment of and function of the African peace and security architecture.

“The partnership supports an African led effort in all stages of the conflict cycle. The partnership is meant to promote long term capacity building including; military, police and civilian crisis management and coherent and coordinated support for the ASF,” he said.

It is understood that the Gaborone meeting was also aimed at finalising plans for a major field exercise in Lesotho next October in support of the African Standby Force’s further development.

October 2013
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