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AU Ministers of Defence to strategise on strengthening African Standby Force
The AU Ministers of Defence meeting in Addis Ababa on Tuesday is geared toward strategies to strengthen the operation of the African Standby Force (ASF) for rapid response to crisis on the continent.
This is contained in a statement issued by the African Union Commission (AUC) on Friday and obtained in Addis Ababa by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The statement said that the meeting would be held within the framework of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).
"The 7th Ordinary Meeting of the Specialised Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS) will take place at the African Union (AU) Headquarters, in Addis Ababa on 14th January, 2014.
"The Meeting will bring together African Ministers of Defence, Safety and Security, and will be preceded on Jan. 10 to 11, 2014 by a meeting of Experts and on Jan. 12, 2014 by a meeting of African Chiefs of Defence Staff and Heads of Security Services.``
According to the statement, two key issues are scheduled for discussion at these meetings, the Report of the recently concluded assessment of the African Standby Force (ASF), and the progress made towards the operationalisation of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC).
NAN recalled that the ACIRC was established by African leaders during the 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly, in May last year in Addis Ababa.
The ACIRC was established to serve as a transitional arrangement pending the full operationalisation of the ASF and its Rapid Deployment Capability ``to provide the AU with a flexible and robust rapidly deployable force to effectively respond to emergency situations on the Continent``.
It would be recalled that the STCDSS during its 6th Ordinary session Jan. 30 2013 requested the AU Commission to collaborate with member states and relevant Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the African Standby Force.
The STCDSS had said the assessment was needed as it formed an important step towards the full implementation of the decision of the 20th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
The Chairperson of the Commission then appointed an Independent Panel of Experts headed by Nigeria's Prof. Ibrahim Gambari to conduct the assessment.
Gambari was the former Joint Special Representative of the United Nations African Union Hybrid Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and former Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria.
The Panel had submitted a comprehensive report on the progress made towards the operationalisation of the ASF and its Rapid deployment Capability (RDC) after it conducted the assessment from July to December 2013.
"The Ministers of Defence, Safety and Security will examine the report during their upcoming meeting."
Source - NAN
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