ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia- The African Standby Force (ASF) will conduct military exercises in 2023 to enhance the continent’s capacity to tackle rising terrorism and violent extremism, the African Union (AU) said on Thursday.
The decision was made during a meeting organized by the AU Political, Peace and Security Commission in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, which was attended by defense ministers, military chiefs and heads of security from various member states.
However, no specific dates for the exercises have been announced.
The ASF is a multidisciplinary peacekeeping force of the AU with military, police, and civilian contingents.
The AU, according to information on its website, has the “right to intervene in a member state in grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.”
The ASF was formed to ensure a “quick reaction capacity that would enable Africans to respond swiftly to a crisis unhampered by any heavy political and instrumental burdens.”
“We are looking at a new emphasis on maritime security … and a joint military exercise in the Gulf of Guinea, Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and Pacific Ocean,” said Bankole Adeoye, AU commissioner for political affairs, peace and security.
The decision, he said, was driven by challenges stemming from increasing piracy, terrorism, and trafficking of humans, weapons, and drugs in Africa.
“Human trafficking and drug trafficking, particularly, have continued to fuel security risks on our continent,” he added.
Adeoye also paid tribute to the Burundian peacekeepers killed in an attack by the al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia earlier this month.
“We are working to re-energize early warning, conflict prevention and mediation mechanisms,” he said, adding that “promoting democracy and good governance” also remains a priority.