Nairobi, 24 March 2016
The Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Amb Raychelle Omamo officially opened on 24 March 2016 the East Africa Community Military Command Post Exercise (CPX) codenamed “Ushirikiano Imara”. The ceremony was held at Humanitarian Peace Support School based in Embakasi, Nairobi, Kenya where the Command Post Exercise is taking place. The CPX involves 250 military, police and civilian components practicing on Peace Support Operations, Counter terrorism, Counter Piracy and Disaster Management to ensure a peaceful Eastern African Region.
The ceremony was attended by EAC Political leaders including Ministers, Military Chiefs of Defence Staffs and other dignitaries representing their respective countries. Rwanda was represented by the High Commissioner to Kenya, Ambassador James Kimonyo along with the Army Chief of Staff, Maj Gen Jacques Musemakweli. Rwandan participants include 43 military, police and civilian component led by Brig Gen Vincent Gatama who holds the post of Chief Empire in the exercise, while ACP William Kayitare acts as the Commissioner General for the exercise.
The opening ceremony was a colored event during which the EAC anthem was sung and EAC flag waved to launch the Exercise.
In her address, the Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Amb Raychelle Omamo said the two weeks Exercise will expose EAC Militaries, civil and police components to planning and executing an integrated mission and jointly develop their capacity to respond to emerging complex security challenges with ability to handle them effectively. She mentioned that terrorism is one of the greatest threats to Peace and Security globally emphasizing that East Africa is also faced with Al Shabaab terror attacks that can effectively be contained when confronted jointly in the framework of East African Community. The Cabinet Secretary for Defence said that EAC needs to safeguard the gains accruing from regional economic cooperation and this can be done through defence collaboration and cooperation.
The Kenyan Chief of Defence Force, Gen S Mwathethe said that with inclusion of South Sudan, the EAC population has enlarged to 170 million of population making it the largest nation State in Africa adding that a larger population will entail more responsibility for security. He mentioned that more than 95% of international trade in the region transit by sea, which requires effort to counter any act of piracy.
He commended the EAC Armed Forces for immense contribution to Peace and Security in Africa particularly with their intervention in peacekeeping missions in Darfur, South Sudan, Somalia and DRC. He stressed however, that the region needs to consolidate efforts to fight the vice of terrorism citing Boko Haram, Al Khaida operating in the West of Africa and Al Shabaab that destabilize the East Africa. “No meaningful economic development can take place in our countries if peace and security are threatened”, he underscored.
In his remarks, the EAC Deputy Secretary in Charge of Political Federation, Charles Njoroge said that the CPX Ushirikiano Imara was organised in accordance with EAC Protocol on Cooperation in Defence. He recalled that areas of cooperation as stipulated by the EAC Memorandum of Understanding include military training, joint operations, technical cooperation, visit and exchange in defence. He underlined that among other objectives, this kind of exercise is meant to evaluate the readiness of EAC Armed Forces to respond to complex security challenges with developing appropriate strategies to counter them effectively.