About 269 civilians, military and police personnel from the East African Community partner states are in Burundi to acquire peace support operations, counter terrorism, counter piracy and disaster management skills.
Rwanda will be represented by 51 participants at the two-week Command Post Exercise, dubbed Ushirikiano Imara 2013 in Muzinda barracks, 19 km from Bujumbura town.
The Second Vice President of the Republic of Burundi, Gervais Rufyikiri, who officially opened the training on Friday, said the presence of the five contingents from EAC partner states at the exercise was a symbol of solidarity.
He congratulated the armed forces and stakeholders in their work to jointly build skills and capacity to solve evolving security challenges such as civil wars, terrorism, robbery, human trafficking, and mutiny and religious conflicts.
He recalled that EAC countries share a lot in common. Whatever happens to one country has impact on others, he said.
The EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera said cohesion among EAC governments, particularly harmonised defence training and military cooperation sends a strong message to the enemies of peace, that EAC is ready to defeat them.
Speaking on recent terrorist attacks in Kenya, Sezibera called for solidarity, saying, “Terrorists thought this was an attack on Kenya but it was an attack on all of us.”
He noted that this is time for regional countries to defend the lives of their citizens from the hands of enemies of peace and commended EAC countries for their contribution to peace efforts in different parts of the world like in Somalia, Darfur and Haiti.
He observed that the EAC can build on this experience to bring peace in the region.
Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, Rwanda Defence Force Chief of Defence Staff was among EAC military and political leaders that graced the official opening of the exercise.
Speeches by different dignitaries emphasised the need for EAC solidarity in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Kenya.
Maj Gen Pontien Gaciyubwenge, Burundi Defence Minister hailed the achievements in EAC defence cooperation. He cited information exchange, harmonisation of military training, sharing of facilities and reciprocal visits.
Gen Nyamvumba later toured Rwandan Contingent Command Post and encouraged the soldiers to be good ambassadors of the country by exhibiting good performance.