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East African states agree to accelerate security sector reforms

NAIROBI, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Countries in the East and Horn of African region have agreed on a joint action plan to accelerate reforms in the security sector, a Kenyan official said on Wednesday.

Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Defense, Raychelle Omamo, said the security sector reforms have gathered steam in the region to strengthen response to emerging threats.

"The fluid security situation in the region demands a paradigm shift to protect citizens from vicious criminals, armed militants and poachers," Omamo told a national forum on security in Nairobi, adding that the regional countries have endorsed a joint communique to strengthen security, peace and sustainable development.

Omamo noted the region share identical challenges like terrorism, human and drugs trafficking, poaching, and spread of new epidemics.

"Our region is grappling with a plethora of security challenges that have been worsened by poverty, competition for resources and flow of small arms," Omamo said, noting that the establishment of an East African Standby Force will boost response to present security challenges.

Kenya and its neighboring countries have adopted African Union policy framework on security sector reforms. Omamo said governments will increase budgets towards equipping and retraining security officers.

"We have agreed on a raft of incentives to ensure our security personnel have the capacity to respond to emerging security threats. Countries will modernize security sector through technology adoption," she said.

Sahle-Work Zewde, Director General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi, said policy reforms, strong leadership and collaboration are key to strengthen security sector in the region.

"International partners will provide technical assistance to enhance implementation of security sector reforms in the region," said the UN official, urging countries to invest in programs that would deter eruption of conflicts.

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