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East African military forces to jointly protect oil and economic boom

One of the opening sessions of Ushirikiano Imara 2016
One of the opening sessions of Ushirikiano Imara 2016

East Africa Community (EAC) countries are currently in the middle of a joint military exercise in Kenya to prepare for a future in which they will work as a united force.

The EAC Command Post Exercise (CPX) Ushirikiano Imara is an exercise that is designed on peace support, counter terrorism, counter piracy and disaster management. Ushirikiano is Swahili for ‘Cooperation’ and Imara ‘stronger’. There is a special focus on security, peace and support after discovery of oil, and the expected economic boom in the region plus threats of terrorism.

The CPX is meant to put military, police, civilian components and stakeholders together in planning and development of strategies for resolving of crisis in a given peace support scenario. The current exercise, that involves close to 300 participants from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, opened on Thursday and runs to April 4, 2016.

At the opening at Humanitarian and Peace Support School in Embakasi Garrison, Nairobi last week, Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe said the federation is slowly but firmly taking shape among EAC States.

“Including South Sudan, it covers 2.4 million square kilometres and has a population of 170 million. All countries are heavily committed to peace and security in the region,” Mwathethe said.

Gen Mwathethe added that “the economic projects will see the region making huge contribution in the world and thus must be prepared to enhance security.” An economic boom is expected in Uganda and Kenya with oil production as well as natural gas in Tanzania.

The Ushirikiano Imara 2016 exercise director, Maj Gen B Biwott from Kenya Defence Forces welcomed the contingents.

“We are all of us meeting here as EAC partner states members to actualise what Ushirikiano means and move further for the progress of the region” Gen Biwott told the participants.

The EAC Ushirikiano Imara military exercise was previously held in Rwanda (2011), Burundi (2013), Uganda (2014) and Kenya this time around.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Friday extended AMISOM’s stay in Somalia by a year.

Countries contributing troops to the 22,000 AU strong force in Somalia are Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.

AU mission in Somalia has lately been facing shortage of funds after the European Union which is among the major financiers cut it funding by 20 percent.

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