By Elias Mhegera – EAST African countries have been urged to utilize their regional body in order to curb a wave of intra-conflicts and terrorism which are detrimental to economic development, peace and stability.
The call was made in a telephonic conference at the US Embassy on Monday this week by Ambassador Johnnie Carson who is the US, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs.
Carson who has a vast experience in the diplomatic circle and African affairs said that Kenya and the Democratic Republic are in dire need of assistance from their neighboring countries in order to resolve ongoing problems in these countries.
He pinpointed the East African Community to be an important body in resolving problems in the DRC which is facing severe internal strife and M23 while Kenya is troubled by the spillover effect of its neighbouring country of Somalia.
“By lacking a strong central command for two decades now Somalia is prone to have the problems that it is facing now, by lacking a national security people are likely to miss basic services like water, food and even micro credits hence the turmoil,” he said.
With a span of 37 years of diplomatic career a good number of those having been spent in Africa, he said that without peace in Kenya or the DRC business activities will not go smoothly in other neighbouring countries.
He however was positive that there are good signs that the Somali question will be resolved due to the fact that for the past 18 months there are positive signs that this country is progressing towards harmony with a minor exception of few events of peace disruption.
“I praise the recent developments where by concerted efforts of various players led by the Kenya Defence Forces alongside Amisom have taken control of Al Shabaab stronghold and headquarters of Kismayu in Somalia,” he commented.
Apart from Kenya and the DRC Carson also discussed the turmoil in Mali, Sudan and Southern Sudan and said that all these problems demand an immediate intervention by regional bodies like the EAC, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in West Africa.
Ambassador Carson said that the dramatic improvement of peace in Somalia has been a product of a joint effort by the AU, IGAD, EAC, under the auspice of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), all meant to sweep away the Al-Shabaab militants.
He stood by the UN position which condemns Rwanda for having been involved in the creation, arm and support of the M23 rebels, a view strongly backed by Congo’s government. Rwanda has been denying any involvement instead it blames Congo for the upsurge in violence.
Responding to various questions from Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa, the seasoned diplomat denied that the US has any vested interests in Africa including allegations that it wants to register military presence through its involvement in the conflicts.
“The US does not intend to settle in Africa that is why even the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM or AFRICOM) is headquartered at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany,” he concluded.