African crisis response force ready by October: Zuma

27 June 2014

The African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), a temporary standby force capable of responding quickly to crisis situations in Africa, is expected to be operational by October, South African President Jacob Zuma said at the conclusion of his working visit to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on Thursday.

The ACIRC will serve as an interim measure ahead of the establishment of a permanent African Standby Force, which was originally expected to be operational by 2015. Zuma proposed the concept of the ACIRC at last year’s African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the proposal was endorsed.

“In order to respond to crises on the continent, the AU Summit took a decision last year to operationalise the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises as an interim mechanism, until the African Standby Force is established”, Zuma said on Thursday.

He said the countries that had volunteered to contribute resources to the ACIRC met during this week’s AU summit to discuss the state of readiness of the temporary standby force.

“The African Union Commission concluded its verification visits to the contributing countries and presented a report on the framework for the operationalisation of the ACIRC, which was endorsed by the contributing countries,” Zuma said. “It is expected that the ACIRC will be launched by October 2014.”

The AU envisions the ACIRC as an efficient, robust and credible force that can be deployed rapidly, either conducting operations of limited duration and aims, or paving the way for the deployment of larger AU and/or United Nations peace operations.

Following a meeting in Addis Ababa in January, the AU decided that the force would comprise a pool of 5 000 troops made up of operational modules in the form of 1 500-strong battle groups. Command will rest with the AU Peace and Security Council, which will asses all requests for intervention by member states.

On a voluntary basis, member states of the AU will contribute troops and finance for the AICRC to enable it to to act independently.

In May last year, South Africa, Ethiopia and Uganda were the first support the initiative and pledged to provide troops should the need arise.

SAinfo reporter