Home » General » AU Needs U.S $1 Billion for Continental Defence Force

THE African Union needs about $1 billion to finance a unified continental standby force to be used in times of conflict in any of the member states.

The idea which was mooted some years ago but has been failing to take off will see member states contributing a certain number of military men, policy experts and civilians for peacekeeping or fighting terrorism.

AU defence, safety and security experts are meeting in Victoria Falls to review the progress made so far in the operationalization of the force.

The force should be in place before end of the year, AU Commission Head of Peace Operations Division Sivuyile Bam told participants on Wednesday.

“We are here at this annual meeting where we are looking at progress made so far in establishing the Africa Standby Force so we have a tool that will enable AU to respond to crisis,” he said.

Each of the five Africa sub-regions being Southern, Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa and North Africa will contribute personnel to make at least 25, 000 member force the continental body expects to establish.

The forces will be stationed in their respective countries, ready for deployment at times of crisis.

Bam said the biggest challenge was financing the force adding that they would depend on development partners for funding for food, equipment, upkeep and other essentials.

Delays in establishing a standby force has resulted in Africa relying on military intervention from the former colonisers through the United Nations.

This has been the case in conflict areas such as Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR) two years ago.

African Chiefs of Defence Staff and Heads of Safety and Security Services from respective member states are expected to meet Thursday to be briefed on recommendations by the technocrats before Defence Ministers meet on Friday, according to the programme.

The idea of a unified army came after the Rwanda genocide when Heads of State suggested the need to have an army to monitor crisis and preserve peace.

This week a general announced that the army had taken over in Burundi while President Nkurunziza was away in Tanzania. Reports say the president is still holed up there at a secret location after he failed to return to Burundi.

Source : New Zimbabwe