1 May 2014

East Africa: EAC Leaders Endorse Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy

Photo: Anthony Morland/IRIN
Conflicts in East Africa.

East African Community Heads of State have directed the regional Council of Ministers to implement a regional counter terrorism strategy to help stabilise the region.

Meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, yesterday, the leaders issued the directive after adopting the new strategy that will see the five member states jointly fight terrorist activities within the Community.

Leaders who attended the summit include Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the Summit Chairman Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta, Rwandan Prime Minister Dr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, Burundi's First Vice-President Prosper Bazombanza and their host President Jakaya Kikwete .

In a joint statement read by EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera, at the closure of the meeting, the Heads of State resolved to enforce the new strategy in order to safeguard regional citizens.

"The Summit called upon the Council of Ministers to implement the counter terrorism strategy and directed all security agencies and the public to intensify efforts aimed at combating terrorism, insurgency and transnational crime with the view to safeguard fundamental rights and freedom of the people of East Africa," he said.

The regional counter terrorism strategy that has been under discussion for some time now was finalised and adopted by the Council of Ministers before being presented to the Heads of State for endorsement.

President Kenyatta said the Community will continue to prioritise the fight against terrorism.

The region faces the problem of pirates on the Indian Ocean who abduct people, especially foreigners. The most common terrorist groups that have proved a menace to the region include Somali-based al-Shabaab as well as DRC-based FDLR, ADF, LRA, etc.

The leaders condemned last year's terrorist attack on Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi that left over 70 people dead.

They reiterated unwavering determination to closely work together to combat terrorism in the region.

On the proposed EAC political federation, the Summit considered the progress report on the establishment of the envisaged federation and directed the Council to initiate the process of drafting a constitution for the federation and develop a roadmap on what the constitution making process would entail.

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