By Hawa Kyamulabi
Defence representatives from Uganda and Kenya on Wednesday signed an agreement to cooperate on security and defence.
The exchange of the signed agreement is the culmination of the two-day (April 5-6, 2022) meeting at Speke Resort Hotel Munyonyo, that aimed at making respective amendments on the earlier draft agreement (February 2022 in Nairobi) by both parties before its adoption upon approval by Chiefs of Defence Forces (CDFs) and Ministers of Defence from both countries.
Uganda’s Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs Hon Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja signed on behalf of the Uganda Government. While the cabinet Secretary for defence in Kenya Hon Eugene Ludovic Wamalwa signed on behalf of the Kenyan Government.
After signing the agreement, Ssempijja commended the government of Kenya, most especially the Technical Experts Working Group (TEWGs) for coming up with an excellent agreement that would be adopted by both countries for the sustainability of peace and security.
He said the agreement will address threats and facilitate joint responses in managing threats.
“This strategic engagement is a culmination of the strategic vision of their Excellences the Presidents of Uganda and Kenya who implored us to fast track this framework in areas of general interest for the security of both Uganda and Kenya,” said Hon Ssempijja.
He recounted that both Uganda and Kenya have come a long way from the ravages of the colonial time that ruined social economic transformation and negatively impacted regional security.
He reiterated that fighting crime is no longer a singular responsibility of one state, because insurgent groups like Al-Shaabab, Al Qaeda, ADF etc pose a real threat that could destroy the two countries, if they don’t urgently address the security issues facing them.
Ssempijja particularly noted that trafficking in arms and the proliferation of small arms is distabilising the Karamoja and Turkana sub regions. He, therefore, urged stakeholders involved in the proliferation of small arms to stop the criminality and engage in more viable social economic activities to foster prosperity.
Uganda’s Defence Minister thanked TEWGs and CDFs from both UPDF and KDF for a job well done. He also applauded Hon Wamalwa for the cooperation that has seen the historic revival of the bilateral agreement for engagement and collaboration in defence and security.
“We need to make sure that we are ready to face the challenges and together, we shall win,” Hon Ssempijja told the TEWGs from both Kenya and Uganda.
In his remarks, the Cabinet Secretary for Defence in the Kenyan government, Eugene Wamalwa, condoled with Uganda for the loss of the former Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon Jacob Oulanya.
He expressed his gratitude to the Technical Experts Working Group for the time and effort put into the preparation of the agreement.
“I am happy that the three things we had discussed with my brother Hon Ssempijja in Nairobi recently have come to fruition. These included signing the bilateral agreement as a framework for security cooperation between the countries, easing the long quee of trucks at the border point and organising a meeting of Defence Ministers in the region, which sat in Arusha recently,” remarked Hon Wamalwa.
He noted that with the joining of the DR Congo into the East African Community bloc, the region had expanded from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic ocean; but quickly added that this expansion comes with its problems especially terrorism.
Hon Wamalwa expressed his appreciation to the UPDF in pacifying the Eastern DRC, and called for enhanced cooperation in defence and security.
”I assure you of continued support and enhanced cooperation in the region after operationalizing the agreement,” he remarked.
He further promised continued support in the fight against Al-Shaabab in Somalia since the threat of terrorism continues to grow in the region. He also emphasized that signing the agreement strengthens the framework for cooperation.
The UPDF Deputy Chief of Defence Forces Lt Gen Peter Elwelu thanked the leaders of both countries for their continued effort to make the region more peaceful and stable.
“Peace and security is not good for only the two countries but also important for the entire region especially for socio-economic transformation,” he noted.
He concluded that the agreement shall provide a foundation for cooperation in matters that would undermine peace and stability. Elwelu promised military support in all matters that ensure that the agreement is fully implemented.