New Vision (Kampala)

East Africa: EAC Countries Sign Peace and Security Protocol

The five partner states of the East African Community have signed a Peace and Security Protocol aimed at improving security in the region.

The signing of the agreement in Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam on Saturday was followed by the open-air burning of 3,193 illicit firearms at Ukonga Prison Grounds on the outskirts of the city.

Uganda's delegation to the events was led by the minister for Defence Dr. Crispus Kiyonga who was in company of Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kuteesa, the Permanent Secretary Ambassador Mugume also included representatives of the security forces.

The protocol among others outlines co-operation in ensuring peace and security for the region and in combating crime. The document spells out 20 objectives for fostering regional peace and security.

These include combating terrorism and piracy, prevention of genocide, disaster management and crisis response plus management of refugees. Others are: control on proliferation of small arms and light weapons, combating trans-border crimes, combating cattle rustling among others.

Dr. Kiyonga who chaired the sectoral council charged with the protocol, revealed that during a closed meeting, the dignitaries recommended appointment of the Director General in charge of Peace and Security. A Council of the EAC in charge of Peace and Security will also be formed.

The EAC Project on Curbing the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the East African Community has for last six years received support from the German government.

Code named "Flame of Peace", the symbolic destruction of the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) as a deterrent of armed crime in the East African Community has been held in several countries.

The ceremonies are aimed at raising awareness and to demonstrate individual state commitment towards sustainable peace and security in the region. Uganda has held several of such events.

The Dar- es Saalam events to destroy about 3,100 licit and illicit weapons were presided over by Tanzania's Vice President Dr Mohammed Gharib Bilal.

At the ceremony also witnessed by EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera, the VP observed that the danger from proliferation of small arms and light weapons was affecting tourism through poaching of wildlife. Dr Bilal urged regional governments to hunt down criminals mercilessly.

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