Felex Share Senior Reporter
The 8th ordinary meeting of the African Union Ministers of Defence, Peace and Security takes place in Victoria Falls next week to assess the progress made in the operationalisation of the African Standby Force.The military force is expected to maintain peace and stability on the continent and should always be prepared to intervene in regional hot spots. About 1 000 delegates from 54 AU member states, including African Union Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ambassador Smail Chergui, are expected to attend the week-long meeting. This is the first time in the history of the AU that the meetings are being held outside the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Briefing journalists in Harare yesterday, Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, said the meeting followed a decision by the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Ethiopia in January to operationalise the ASF by the end of this year.
“This meeting is expecting to receive updates on the progress made so far in the operationalisation of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) in general, but most importantly, the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capabilities including the participation of all AU member states in the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis as a build-up to the Rapid Deployment Capability,” he said. The decision to establish the 5 000-strong force has been under discussion for more than a decade now, a development that has forced African states to request French intervention to tackle crises in Mali and Central African Republic two years ago.