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                      Africa acts to strengthen efforts against terrorism

                      By OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2022-06-01 09:30
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                      African Union member states have agreed to fully operationalize the African Standby Force to strengthen the fight against terrorism on the continent.

                      The agreement was announced by Alhadji Sarjoh Bah, the AU's conflict management director, following an extraordinary summit of the African heads of state and government held in Equatorial Guinea over the weekend.

                      "Member states condemn terrorism, agree to fully operationalize the African Standby Force, share intelligence and jointly fight terrorism and transnational organized crime, improve natural resource governance, secure sustainable and predictable financing and support conflict victims," said Bah in a statement released on Sunday.

                      The African Standby Force is comprised of multidimensional capabilities, including military, police and civilian, on standby ready for rapid deployment.

                      Speaking at the summit, Moussa Faki Mahamat, AU Commission chairman, noted that terrorism had increased on the continent from 2011 with the Libyan crisis, which resulted from the NATO-backed ouster of longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

                      Mahamat said the crisis in Libya opened the way for foreign mercenaries in the Sahel and an influx of terrorist organizations defeated in the Middle East. He added that terrorism has now spread to other parts of Africa, including Mozambique, Mali, Somalia and the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

                      "This is to be blamed on a lack of inter-African solidarity between countries fighting terrorism and a failure by African countries to honor their commitments as some of the major reasons behind the spread of terrorism on the continent," Mahamat said.

                      Speaking in Equatorial Guinea's capital Malabo on Saturday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari endorsed setting up an African Standby Force on Terrorism.

                      Buhari also called on leaders to muster the political will that would fuel synergy, enhance intelligence gathering and bring more urgency to tackling violent crimes.

                      "In the West African region, we are working very hard to combat terrorism. The Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad region has continued to degrade the insurgents by substantially reducing their capacity to inflict harm on our citizens," Buhari said.

                      "These efforts, however, need to be strengthened and complemented by the African Union, through the African Union Peace and Security Architecture."

                      Buhari said Africa should ensure the readiness of the African Standby Force for immediate response when a member state is under terrorist threat and strengthen the fight against cybercrime, money laundering, drugs and arms trafficking which facilitate terrorism financing.

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