KIGALI - Preparations to establish the joint Eastern African Standby Force (EASF) have taken an impressive step forward, with officials saying it will be in place ready for deployment by next year.
The force to be made up of elements from the military, police and civilians will be drawn from 13 countries making up the Eastern African Region, which include; Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Comoros, Seychelles, Burundi and Madagascar.
Military spokesperson, Major Jill Rutaremara, said preparatory mechanisms are already underway, which include various trainings and exercises for harmonisation and capacity building of troops to make up the unit.
Under the flagship of either the African Union (AU) or the United Nations (UN) members of the EASF will be ready for deployment in conflict zones for peacekeeping or as observer missions.
Rutaremara explained that in a peace support mission there is always need for a political authority, which is why the EASF will not only include members of the army and police in the operations, but also civilians for administrative matters.
“That mix is actually good because everyone brings their contribution to the table to make the mission a success,” he said.
He could not however precisely determine how many Rwandan troops would be mobilised for the force, saying members of EASF will always be staying in their countries and called upon when needed for a mission.
“They will be mobilised according to the task ahead of them, so the number is always determined by what kind of mission they are going for,” he added.
The EASF comes as an addition to other existing regional standby forces within the African Peace and Security Architecture.
Rwanda is among countries that have been deploying peacekeeping troops to conflict-torn regions and currently over 3,000 Rwanda Defence Forces are on a peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan.