French forces, southern African troopswrap peackeeping exercise

10th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

NACALA, Mozambique, June 10 (AFP) - French troops and forces from at least four southern African countries Thursday ended a 10-day military exercise aimed at strengthening Africa's capability to carry out its own peacekeeping missions.

NACALA, Mozambique, June 10 (AFP) - French troops and forces from at least four southern African countries Thursday ended a 10-day military exercise aimed at strengthening Africa's capability to carry out its own peacekeeping missions.

Dubbed Operation Nicusy 2004 after a small fish found in the area, the exercise held in the northern Mozambican town of Nacala some 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) north of Maputo was jointly organised by France and Mozambique.

"The objective of the exercise is to train African countries in peacekeeping and to be able to operate on their own," General Patrick Marengo, the commander of French forces in the southern Indian Ocean, said.

The manoeuvres would help countries in the region better prepare a "standby force," he said.

Apart from France and Mozambique, three other countries - Botswana, Zambia and Madagascar - actively participated in the exercise held in the strategic Nacala corridor which runs from Malawi in the west to the northern Mozambican port town.

Five other African nations sent observers: South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

Mozambican junior defence minister Henriques Banze told troops after the exercise ended in a military base near Nacala's airport that "this exercise is strengthening relationships and partnerships in African peacekeeping.

"Any problem of security whether it be military, political in the region the continent or even on international level the people of southern Africa will be prepared to play their role."

Since 1997, African-led forces have deployed on peace missions on the continent including Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

A total of 975 troops participated in the exercises including some 270 French troops - some of whom were paratroopers and special forces.

About 200 Mozambican soldiers, including special forces and infantry, were also involved in the exercise.

Marengo said the operation was an intermediate exercise held in Africa every few years. The first major exercise of this type was held in Senegal in 1998.

General Louis Fisher, commander of Bostwana's defence forces, said: "This goes a long way in helping us establish a regional peacekeeping force and also give us the opportunity to strengthen relationships between ourselves."

Nicusy 2004 ended with a demonstration by French, Botswanan and Mozambican troops on how to handle a hostage situation as well as a visit by top military brass to a local hospital whose roof had been repaired and walls painted by troops participating in the operation.

Mozambican army spokesman Captain Eusebio Salumbia said the training involved preparing troops for urban warfare.

A former Portuguese colony that won independence in 1975, Mozambique plunged into all-out civil war a year later between the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and the rebel Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO).

The war left at least a million dead and displaced millions of others and only ended in 1992 following a peace agreement between FRELIMO and RENAMO.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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