12 African lead­ers dis­cuss ter­ror, defence

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

In 12 of 19 bi­lat­eral con­ver­sa­tions Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi had Wed­nes­day, lead­ers of African coun­tries fo­cused on coun­tert­er­ror­ism, defence co­op­er­a­tion and anti-piracy op­er­a­tions, South Block of­fi­cials said.

This is be­ing seen as a sig­nif­i­cant shift in the bi­lat­eral con­ver­sa­tion with African lead­ers who would oth­er­wise fo­cus on con­ces­sional lines of credit, agri­cul­ture, ed­u­ca­tion and in­creased in­vest­ments in in­fras­truc­ture.

“This is a ma­jor change which we ob­served on the first day of bi­lat­eral meet­ings with the African lead­ers who are bat­tling the ris­ing spec­tre of ter­ror­ism and piracy in their back­yard. They want to in­crease the ca­pa­bil­ity of their defence forces and have a ro­bust in­tel­li­gence-shar­ing mech­a­nism,” a top South Block of­fi­cial told The In­dian Ex­press.

The African con­ti­nent has been wit­ness to the rise of the Boko Haram and Al Shabab ter­ror­ist groups which have been car­ry­ing out ter­ror at­tacks.

Re­call­ing the West­gate mall at­tack in Nairobi, Kenyan Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta said “both coun­tries, In­dia and Kenya, are vic­tims of ter­ror­ism” and New Delhi and Nairobi should “widen” anti-ter­ror­ism and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion. “He asked for In­dian help in ca­pac­ity build­ing and bet­ter in­for­ma­tion ex­change be­tween gov­ern­ments,” Tan­maya Lal, Joint Sec­re­tary (East and South Africa) in the Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs, said, al­lud­ing to scope for “in­tel­li­gence­shar­ing”.

Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari, who went to the Defence Ser­vices Staff Col­lege in Welling­ton as a young army of­fi­cer, called for in­creased train­ing of mil­i­tary of­fi­cers. Of­fi­cials said that this is what Buhari feels is needed to fight the dreaded Boko Haram.

Boko Haram, which means ‘western ed­u­ca­tion is for­bid­den’, has rav­aged large parts of north-east Nige­ria and car­ried its vi­o­lence into Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Early this year, Boko Haram de­clared its al­le­giance to the Is­lamic State.

While Cameroon Tues­day asked for help, Niger Pres­i­dent Is­soufou Ma­hamadou too raised the sub­ject of se­cu­rity and counter-ter­ror­ism. He ex­plained the dif­fi­culty in the neigh­bour­hood. “This was a clear ref­er­ence to the menace of Boko Haram and they asked for as­sis­tance,” an of­fi­cial said.

Le­sotho Prime Min­is­ter Bethuel Pakalitha Mo­sisili also dis­cussed defence co­op­er­a­tion, and praised the In­dian armed forces who have been train­ing of­fi­cers from Le­sotho. “He asked for more slots to train their of­fi­cers,” the of­fi­cial said.

Zim­babwe Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe, who holds the Robert African Union’s Pres­i­dency, also dis­cussed closer co­op­er­a­tion in the fight against ter­ror.

Ghana’s Pres­i­dent John Dra­mani Ma­hama raised the is­sues of mar­itime se­cu­rity and cy­ber se­cu­rity. Ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial, the Gulf of Guinea is emerg­ing as a hub of piracy, and is a “con­cern”.

Dji­bouti Pres­i­dent Ismail Omar Guelleh also talked of as­sis­tance in anti-piracy op­er­a­tions, and re­called In­dian ships vis­it­ing his coun­try’s ports. He also called for co­op­er­a­tion in mar­itime se­cu­rity, cy­ber se­cu­rity and defence co­op­er­a­tion.

Chad Pres­i­dent Idriss Deby Itno too raised the is­sue of se­cu­rity and counter-ter­ror­ism co­op­er­a­tion, while South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma said they need to take more con­crete steps to fight ter­ror­ism.

Mozam­bique Prime Min­is­ter Car­los Agostinho do Rosario, who once served as am­bas­sador to In­dia, sought greater defence and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion with In­dia.

Gabon Pres­i­dent Ali Bongo Ondimba not only raised the is­sues of ter­ror­ism but also transna­tional crimes and the need for co­op­er­a­tion to take on the menace. Ghana Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Kaguta Mu­sev­eni too pushed for greater co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the defence forces of the two coun­tries.

Source: The In­dian Ex­press

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