Foreign Affairs, East African, Regional and International Cooperation Minister, Dr Augustine Mahiga, said yesterday that while Tanzania was aware of the terrorist threat in the region, its defence and security forces will always be attentive to any unusual movement in its midst.
He further said that terrorism in the Horn of Africa and the East African region were among the major issues that were discussed at the 27th African Union (AU) Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. The minister said that to this effect, African leaders have agreed to allocate a special fund to fight terrorism in the Horn of Africa and East Africa region.
According to Dr Mahiga, African leaders expressed their concern on the increase of terrorist acts in the region and agreed to take measures, including allocating funds to boost military operations against the menace.
Dr Mahiga agreed that reports from reliable sources indicate that some Tanzanian youth were among Al-Shabaab fighters who have been arrested or killed by Somalia government and AU troops. He said the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Mr Smail Chergui, told him recently that Tanzanian youth were in the list of killed or arrested Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia. "I met Mr Chergui recently.
He told me that some Tanzanian youth are fighting in Somalia. He confided with me that whenever they arrest Al-Shaabab fighters, they always find Tanzania nationals among them," Dr Mahiga told reporters.
Dr Mahiga said the AU peace and Security commission advised him to take measures that could help to stop youth from joining terrorist groups and protect the country and innocent civilians from being attacked. "We are very grateful to our security forces; they are doing a very good job.
So far, Tanzania is safe. We expect such a situation to prevail," he said. On Burundi peace talks, Dr Mahiga said the facilitator, former President Benjamin Mkapa, is continuing with preparations for next month's meeting.
"Former President Mkapa will continue with the talks next month. They are continuing with the selection of groups and people who are supposed to attend the talks," he said.
However, Dr Mahiga said the Burundi government has announced a challenging condition, which forbids any person who participated in the May, 2015 attemp coup against President Pierre Nkurunzinza from being part of the peace talks.
"This is a very challenging condition. Our aim is to end conflict in Burundi - and we believe Mr Mkapa will manage to bring positive changes," he affirmed. On the Southern Sudan conflict, Dr Mahiga said African leaders have agreed to deploy regional troops to the troubling country after recent fighting between rival forces.
Soldiers for the African Union (AU) force are to come from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda. However, Dr Mahiga said one of South Sudan government officials told African leaders that his country was not ready for AU troops and that they (South Sudanese) will end their differences on their own.
"I am glad the AU has decided to intervene by sending AU troops. So far there are 12,000 UN troops down there.
However, the two rival forces are still fighting and killing civilians. Therefore, the AU has made a right decision to send troops," he said. Moreover, Dr Mahiga added that African leaders have agreed to continue pushing for two permanent membership positions in the UN Security Council and veto power.
Source: Tanzania Daily News.