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EAC members to agree on joint defence policies

BUSIA
By | September 7th 2009

By Kepher Otieno

East African Community (EAC) partner States have agreed that suspected criminals arrested abroad be handed back to their countries of origin.

They also agreed to form a Combined Joint Task Force of 1,556 personnel, including key stakeholders, from the five EAC Partner States.

The move aims to promote peace, counter terrorism and manage disaster and enhance mutual understanding on how to handle such problems.

Nationality established

On Sunday, Kenya’s head of delegation Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode told The Standard on the telephone from Arusha discussions centred on how to strengthen and increase bilateral relationships.

"We want to come up with joint policies that guide our operations as the much-touted EAC integration takes shape," Mr Ojode said.

He explained that if terrorists or suspects marauding in East Africa are arrested in Kenya or Uganda their nationality would be established first.

"Once that is done, the suspects would be handed over to their countries for trial," he said.

Yesterday, Ojode said the purpose of the exercise was to develop the capacity of the EAC Armed Forces as well.

"The exercise is also expected to enhance mutual understanding within armed services of the region to ease insecurity at the borders," Ojode said.

The Partner States are holding the Field Training Exercise under the East African Community Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in Defence Matters.

The EAC MoU on Co-operation in Defence Matters was signed in 1998 and revised in 2001.

The MoU is currently under the process of being upgraded into a Protocol. Ojode said Kenya was committed to the ongoing talks with a view to implementing the agreed policies.

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