Premier Edouard Ngirente has urged the East Africa Standby Force (EASF) to establish mechanisms through which the region can realise lasting peace and security for sustainable social economic transformation.
Ngirente was speaking after the monthly community service, commonly known as Umuganda, which coincided with the regional Standby Force’s Open Day, in Gikomero sector, Gasabo district.
While representing President Kagame, Prime Minister Ngirente commended the will of the East Africa Standby Force in boosting peace and security in the EAC Region but also challenged them that without that continued stability there will be no transformation.
“Without peace and security, the region will never realise sustainable growth and development,” Ngirente told EASF.
The Eastern Africa Standby Force is a regional organisation whose mandate is to enhance peace and security in the Eastern Africa region.
The force is comprised of 10 member states which are; Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
EASF member states have a combined population of about 400 million people.
Participants from the EASF took part in Umuganda as the major activity for their Open Day, which preceded the week-long 24th ordinary Policy Organs meeting held in Kigali.
The Prime Minister commended EASF for joining the residents of Gasabo for the monthly community service, which constitutes one of Rwanda’s home grown solutions.
“I thank EASF for organizing the event bringing together the forces close to the people of Rwanda,” Ngirente added.
The EASF Director, Dr. Abdillahi Omar Bouh said that participating in Umuganda is one way of bringing the Inter-governmental force close to civilians as a way to effectively deliver on their mandate.
“This is what we call civic projects; which is part of our Open day aimed at promoting what the organisation is doing bringing us close to the regional population,” said Dr. Abdillahi.
“It is easy to understand that without peace and security, there is no development of our economy.
We have hada chance to travel away from Kigali – where the meeting was held – to be close to the local people and tell them that ‘what you have today and you future is safe and secured. The EASF is there for you’”.
His sentiments were echoed by the Chairperson of the “Friends of EASF”, Colonel Joern Rasmussen, who is also the Defence Attaché to the Royal Danish Embassy in Kenya.
“It (Umuganda) was wonderful,” Rasmussen said.
“I am not an engineer but I held a tool and played my part in building a trench. I think the whole concept is very much what we also learn about Rwanda where you have all these kind of concepts of communities working together to develop something together which is very wise”.
He added that Umugandawas an activity of “service and humility” that EASF has learned from Rwanda.
EASF was established in 2004 as a regional mechanism to provide capability for rapid deployment of forces to carry out preventive deployment, rapid intervention, peace support/stability operations and peace enforcement.
Colonel Rasmussen also challenged the EASF to “not be a military body only but also a political one that can facilitate diplomacy, foster unity and peace in the region.”
The Policy Organs meeting closed on Friday with the 24th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers for Defence and Security from the Eastern Africa Region, where the Minister for Defence Gen. James Kabarebe, noted that the region continues to grapple with violent conflicts and relapses into cycles of violence, as well as emerging threats ranging from increasing incidences of terrorist attacks and abductions, cross-border organized crime syndicates, human and drug trafficking, illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons with increasing magnitude.