Musanze, 21 October 2011

  • Honourable Ministers;
  • Secretary General of the East African Community;
  • EAC High Commissioners accredited to Rwanda;
  • Chiefs of Defence Staff and Heads of Security Organs from
  • EAC Partner States;
  • Governor Northern Province;
  • Participants in Exercise “Ushirikiano Imara”;
  • Distinguished Guests;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good morning to you all. I am pleased to be here with you and let me take this opportunity to welcome those visiting us. I wish you all an enjoyable stay in our country.

Exercise “Ushirikiano Imara” fits well in our integration process and I commend the efforts of all those people who organised this exercise.

This is the kind of cooperation that gives meaning to our Community as it illustrates unity of purpose, and reflects the aspirations of the people of East Africa to come together and to respond to constantly evolving circumstances. Ordinarily, when we talk of integration, some people understand enhanced cooperation in business, customs and taxes. This is just one aspect of it. We need to safeguard the gains accruing from our economic cooperation. It is in view of this that our countries agreed on defence collaboration in the areas of military training, joint operations, technical cooperation, reciprocal visits and information exchange for mutual benefit. Rwanda fully supports this spirit of cooperation – this is why we are happy to host this Command Post Exercise, “Ushirikiano Imara” and the subsequent Field Training Exercise that is scheduled for 2012.

During decades of violent conflict in Africa, we learnt a key lesson. While partnership with the international community is important, Africans have to find lasting solutions to our own problems of peace and security and take development matters in our hands. In conducting these military drills, we in the East African countries are signalling our resolve to address jointly the security threats that affect our people and that threaten to derail our national and regional development. Looking at the quality of planning that has gone into this joint exercise and the high calibre of participation, I am confident that valuable lessons will be learnt in the search for solutions to our own security needs.

  • Distinguished guests;

Participants in Exercise “Ushirikiano Imara”; In addition to their principal role of national defence and security, our Armed Forces are now involved in protecting our region. I commend the progress the Defence Sector has made in this endeavour. You provide reassurance, confidence, courage and hope for a better future to East African Community citizens.

The four key themes you will focus on here –peace support operations, disaster management, counterterrorism and counter piracy – are extremely important and relevant for effective responses to security challenges both at home and in other situations where we might be needed.

We expect you to undertake these drills with dedication and commitment so that you attain not only the objectives of the current exercise, but also those of future operations.

Once again, I wish to thank everyone that has been involved in the planning and implementation of this exercise and to assure you of our full support. With these remarks, I declare East African Community Command Post Exercise “Ushirikiano Imara” officially open.

Thank you for your attention