(Xinhua) -- Defense ministers from the east African
countries meeting in Uganda on Friday agreed to strengthen
regional cooperation in defense affairs, implementation of
protocols on security and peace to deal with insecurity and
conflict that continues to plague the region.
Adolf Mwesige, Uganda’s minister of
defense and veteran affairs, told sector ministers and experts
that strengthened cooperation in defense affairs will promote
lasting peace, security and stability in the six partner states
of the East African Community (EAC).
EAC brings together Uganda, Tanzania,
Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.
“The EAC defense sector needs all the
support necessary to strengthen its capacity in different
areas given that it is on the right path to deal with
insecurity in our region,” said Mwesige while closing the
“I urge you to facilitate this support
and where a need arises, our principals [heads of states] be
put in the know,” he said.
The minister said the continued
insecurity and conflict in South Sudan, eastern Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) and Somalia continues to plague the
He said the ongoing conflict in South
Sudan pitting troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and his
former deputy, Riek Machar, poses a serious concern in the
region as thousands of civilians continue to lose their lives
and their livelihoods while attempting to flee for safety.
As of October 2017, the number of
South Sudan refugees fleeing the country’s civil war into
neighbouring countries was estimated at 2,073,105, according to
the UN figures.
“Conflict is at our door step as a
region. Being ambassadors of peace, this is the correct time
to review the political and cultural dynamics that leads to
various forms of conflict in the region,” said Mwesige.
“We need to re-align our strategies to
emerging conflict situations and scenarios. This includes
enhancing the early warning systems, which may help prevent
conflict and identify mechanism and interventions at various
stages,” he said.
Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, the Secretary
General of the EAC said security remains one of the primary
concerns for the region given the prevailing situation in
Militant group Al Shabaab continues to
carryout attacks on military bases and civilians in the Horn of
“I am happy to note that through your
cooperation we have been able to minimize external threats
of Al Shabaab and through your interventions, the group have
been disenfranchised and normalcy is slowly coming back in
that country,” said Mfumukeko.
Mfumukeko said the defense sector has
recorded significant progress in widening and deepening
cooperation by having all the partner states ratifying the
protocol on cooperation in defense affairs.
“This step brings the community closer
to the fulfillment of the long awaited ambition of having a
mutual defense pact,” said Mfumukeko.
The five-day meeting that kicked off
on Monday in the Ugandan capital, Kampala aimed to further the
peace and security strategy that was adopted in November 2006
and the protocol on peace and security.