East Africa: Regional Lawmakers Call for More Efforts to Fight Terrorism

22 October 2021

Regional lawmakers on October 20, sounded the alarm over the apparent vulnerability of the East African Community (EAC) which, as noted, has seen the most heinous terrorists' related attacks in the Sub-Saharan Africa.

This was as MP Fatuma Ndangiza, Chairperson of the East African Legislative Assembly's Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution presented a report on the implementation of the six-member bloc's peace and security strategy.

As lawmakers resumed business interrupted on October 12 when Ugandan lawmakers staged walkouts due to what they consider as an unfair EAC recruitment process, Ndangiza said counter-terrorism is one of the most crucial and pertinent aspects of the region's peace and security strategy.

She said: "The Committee observed that in the recent past, the EAC region has seen the most heinous terrorists' related attacks in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet all the endeavours taken by the East African Community (EAC), in particular, to counter-terrorism threats seem not to be yielding meaningful results.

"Recent terrorist attacks in Kenya provide proof about the apparent vulnerability of the EAC region, to increasing terrorist-related activities and the weak capacities of partner states to respond."

To improve partner states' capacities to respond, Ndangiza said, heads of national joint coordination agencies and entities meet occasionally to deliberate on salient implementation challenges of the sub sectoral implementation plan, of the strategy.

The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) support project, the regional Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (CPMR) project along with the EU sponsored Maritime Security Programme (MASE), she said, have also facilitated a number of interventions in this area.

The APSA is a set of institutions, legislation and procedures designed to address conflict prevention and promote peace and security on the African continent.

The objective of the CPMR mechanism is to seek and explore avenues through which partner states can resolve any disputes or conflicts within and between two or more partner states or with foreign countries by peaceful means.

The National Counterterrorism Centre in Nairobi; and the Police Counter Terrorism Centre of Excellence in Nairobi, Kenya, Ndangiza said, "are doing a commendable job" in the region.

Ndangiza said the EAC has developed an action-based sub-strategy towards countering radical extremism among the youths and fundamentalism.

"This will be enhanced further through the work of the Inter-Religious Council of East Africa, who will proactively work to demystify the fundamentalist narratives. They are being complemented by the EAC Youth leaders and University Ambassadors."

Earlier this month, the Rwanda National Police (RNP) paraded 13 suspects linked to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a terror group affiliated to the Islamic State, who were arrested in September for planning to conduct terrorist attacks in Kigali.

Fatuma's presentation was not concluded. Lawmakers did not debate and adopt the report as Speaker Martin Ngoga adjourned session so he could attend to "important business that concerns us," meaning work on the report will be concluded during the next sitting, likely to happen next month.

The Speaker often joins regional ministers in informal sessions aimed at addressing urgent EAC matters.

Ministers in charge of EAC affairs on October 19, pledged to address issues causing a standoff in the ongoing staff recruitment exercise.

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