Other African regions should follow in EASF’s footsteps

When Islamic militants overran Mali and threatened the capital Bamako, in 2012, member states of the Economic Commission of West African States (Ecowas) promised that they were raising an army to rescue besieged Mali.

When Islamic militants overran Mali and threatened the capital Bamako, in 2012, member states of the Economic Commission of West African States (Ecowas) promised that they were raising an army to rescue besieged Mali.

But that was all it was; empty promises.  It took the intervention of an outsider, France, to galvanise Ecowas states into action at the last minute.

Nigeria also turned to France when Boko Haram started to severely puncture into its armour in the northern part of the country.

The above two examples raised questions as to the preparedness of African states when faced with serious security challenges. Had they implemented the African Union’ advice to create a standby force, France would not have had to step in.

On this part of the continent, the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) is already taking shape. The fact that Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya Uganda, and Rwanda will be contributing the quasi totality of the 5000-strong force is an indication that this region takes security matters seriously.

Inaction has dogged the AU and its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, for decades and many nations have been devastated before the organisation could lift a finger.

The speed by which EASF was mobilised, one year ahead of schedule, is a clear indication that the region wants to rewrite the continent profile; it is ready to take its destiny into its own hands.

The other four regions that make up the African component should borrow a leaf from EASF; they are the guardians of their own security, not external forces.

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