The East African Community is set to destroy 2600 illicit arms and weapons in Bukoba, Kagera region of the United Republic of Tanzania.
According to the Minister of EAC, Monique Mukaruliza, destruction of these arms will take place tomorrow and the move is in line with the region’s vision of a peaceful, stable and politically united East Africa.
“Illicit arms and weapons are an impediment to peace in the region so there’s cooperation by all member states to destroy them. There is a time when we did this in Uganda as well as Burundi so this time it is happening in Tanzania,” Mukaruliza said.
A statement from the EAC shows that the event of setting ablaze the 2,600 weapons will also mark the Africa Day and commemorate the African Union’s 2010 Year of Peace and Security.
The illicit weapons to be destroyed in Bukoba have been recovered from or voluntarily surrendered by civilians and refugees living in the area.
Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Chiefs of Police, intelligence, army and local government leaders from the border communities of Tanzania/Uganda, Tanzania/Rwanda and Tanzania/Burundi are expected to attend.
Mukaruliza noted that Rwanda will be represented by officials from the Ministry of Defence.
The EAC Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation), Hon. Beatrice Kiraso said in a statement that, “destruction of illicit arms in Bukoba on Tuesday bears testimony to Africa’s renewed efforts to promote lasting peace, security and stability on the continent.”
To date, under the EAC-Small Arms Light Weapon (SALW) programme, the five Partner States have destroyed more than 12,000 small arms and five tonnes of explosives in an attempt to make EAC secure and peaceful for its people and investments.
Mukaruliza also noted that in the same regard of fostering intergration, members of the East African Legislative Assembly will, this week meet in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss the state of the community in relation to the integration process.
Police spokesperson Supt. Eric Kayiranga, highlighted some key achievements by the country in the fight against illicit SALW.
“We have been sensitizing people to surrender illicit arms. There is also a law in place to govern these issues. There are different programmes on the collection of illicit weapons and we (Rwanda) are also partaking in regional efforts,” said Kayiranga.
The bloc has already destroyed more than 12,000 small arms and five tonnes of explosives in an attempt to make EAC secure and peaceful for its people and investments.
On April 17, the EAC carried out a similar destruction of illicit SALW in Bujumbura, Burundi.
In March, five members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) arrived in Rwanda to assess joint EAC-GTZ illicit arms control efforts in the country.
At the time, separate groups of EALA’s committee on regional affairs and conflict resolution were touring Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi in an “on-spot assessment of the EAC-GTZ Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) projects.”
Later, Kenya’s Augustine Loile Lotodo, a member on that committee, told The New Times that Rwanda was at the forefront in arms control, simply because of what he noted was its transparency in addition to serious government involvement.