Zim hosts AU defence, safety, security meeting

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Zimbabwe will next week host the 8th meeting of the specialised technical committee of African Union (AU) Ministers of Defence, Safety and Security in Victoria Falls at which a continental standby force is expected to be established to tackle growing security challenges.

by SILENCE CHARUMBIRA

Briefing journalists at Defence House yesterday, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi said the five-day meeting, which begins on Monday, was expected to give an update on the force and its rapid deployment capabilities.

“This is a very important meeting that is expected to be attended by close to a thousand delegates from all the 54 AU member states. The meeting is very important to Zimbabwe because this is the first time in the history of the African Union that it is being held outside the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” Sekeramayi said.

“This meeting is expected to receive updates on the progress so far made in the operationalisation of the African Peace and Security Architecture in general, but most importantly, the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capabilities including the participation of all AU Member States in the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) as a build-up to the Rapid Deployment Capability.”

He said the three levels of meetings starting with the experts meeting from May 11 to 12, the Chiefs of Defence, Safety and Security meeting on May 13-14 and the Ministers of Defence, Safety and Security meeting on May 15, were all intended to ensure that the continent develops its own capability of ensuring peace and security.

Zimbabwe is hosting the meeting on behalf of the AU Commission for Peace and Security.

Sekeramayi said AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would be among the attendees as well as the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, who will be available throughout the five-day programme.

Sekeramayi said the event followed the decision by the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU held in Addis Ababa in January to operationalise the AU Standby Force by end of 2015.