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SA-proposed new African military force approved
May 29, 2013, 3:40 am

French soldiers in Mali [AP]

The African Union have been criticised for not moving quickly enough during recent conflicts on the continent [AP]

The African Union (AU) will establish a new military force following a suggestion from South Africa, the international relations and co-operation department said on Tuesday.

“On Monday… the African Union summit (in Ethiopia) adopted a historic decision to establish the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIR), at the initiative of South Africa,” said spokesman Clayson Monyela in a statement.

In March Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic killed 14 South African soldiers while advancing on the capital Bangui to depose then President Francois Bozize.

The African Union have been criticised for not moving quickly enough during recent conflicts in Mali, Central African Republic, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

South African President Jacob Zuma has been a strident proponent of greater military might for Africa.

“The need for an intervention brigade has become more crucial in light of the situations of instability in the Central African Republic, the eastern Congo and Mali, where decisive intervention is needed.”

The South African proposal was made to tackle ongoing obstacles to peace and security which undermined democratically elected governments.

The AU did not at the moment have an immediate response mechanism, as the process of implementing the African Peace and Security structure was ongoing, said Monyela.

Most of AU’s current security missions are funded by the European Union and the United States, according to a 2012 report by South Africa’s Centre for Conflict Resolution.

The proposed ACIR was an interim measure, pending the African Standby Force’s (ASF) commencement of operations and rapid deployment capability.

The ACIR was therefore not a new concept, but built on the principles of the ASF.

“This interim measure will further provide African countries with the flexibility to take concrete measures to address the challenges in the interim,” he said.

This would allow the process of getting the ASF into operation to take place.

President Jacob Zuma told the summit that South Africa stood ready to provide support to deal with urgent matters of the continent.

Following South Africa’s pledge of assistance, other countries also pledged their support, and readiness, to contribute to the ACIR.

Monyela said: “South Africa’s initiative has thus received broad consensus from member states of the African Union and has been adopted as a decision of the summit.”

Source: Agencies