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Interview: National interests delay formation of Africa Standby Force

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, June 23 (Xinhua) -- The national interests of African nations have delayed the formation of the African Standby Force (ASF), which scholars and analysts believe could have assisted in addressing some of the current security challenges the continent is facing.

The ASF was first proposed about ten years ago, with its actualization first set to be in 2010, but not much achievement has been made.

"The goal of having a standby force will take a long time, as the modalities of such a force are complex and hampered by prevailing national interests," said Gerishon Ikiara with the University of Nairobi Lecturer of International Economics .

"All AU meetings normally end with a set of resolutions. The problem has been the implementation of the resolutions. I don't expect much progress to be achieved in the establishment of the force as full consensus might not be reached," he added in an interview with Xinhua ahead of the AU summit scheduled for June 26- 27.

According to Professor Macharia Munene, the lecturer of International Relations at the United States International University, no progress will be achieved on the standby force until there is political stability in the continent.

"Africa will continue to rely on ad hoc forces. I don't think much progress will be achieved in the upcoming AU meeting. There is fear among states that the force could be misused to overthrow sitting governments," he said.

ASF has five brigades compromising of civilian, military and police components. The brigades are divided among the five Africa's regional blocks of Eastern, Southern, Central, Western and Northern. Progress in establishing full brigades varies from region to region.

ASF's full actualisation has been postponed nearly three times, first in 2008, then 2010 and 2013, and now it has been postponed to 2015.

"The establishment of an ASF has been discussed in many forums, but we are yet to see any meaningful progress. Of course the East African states have covered a significant milestone towards the establishment of a standby force," said Martin Nguru, a Diplomacy Scholar at the University of Nairobi.

"As for now, bureaucratic hurdles, limited funding and political differences will inhibit the establishment of a continental standby force. Countries must overcome their differences at the upcoming AU summit to fast-track the creation of a strong African standby force," said Nguru.

He said so far, counter-terrorism measures across the globe have had hits and misses and said it is time to review them.

"Response by the states has banked on military force which has often times boomeranged. A case in point is American war on terror that worsened sectarian divide and the eventual bloodshed we are witnessing today in Syria and Iraq. We need to evaluate response to terror since the use of force has been a flop. There is need to look at the root cause of grievances and establish a more just society that respects diversity," said Nguru.

Rebels have more time to gain ground because of the lengthy nature of time it takes for the Africa Union and the United Nations to agree on the deployment of the peacekeeping forces.

ASF was meant to be a sort of a rapid reaction force that would have an early warning mechanism when there are signs of imminent conflict.

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