A TROUBLED country can easily be a breeding ground for acts of terrorism whose adverse effects are transnational, deputy army commander Dennis Alibuzwi has said. Major General Alibuzwi says maintaining peace in any country is cardinal to creating a safe environment for all. He said this yesterday at the opening of the sixth Zambian battalion and Zambia Air Force aviation unit pre-deployment training at Nanking peace mission training centre. Gen Alibuzwi said officers sent to the Central African Republic (CAR) should ensure peace is restored because it is still volatile. He said officers in CAR operate under a difficult environment, hence the need for them to adequately prepare for the mission. “This is why you will be subjected to rigorous training here so that we adequately prepare you to effectively carry out the United Nations (UN) mandate to protect civilians and create a safe environment for all,” he said.
Gen Alibuzwi said the fifth battalion currently in CAR is performing well despite the unpredictable security situation on the ground. He said Zambia has received accolades from the UN, African Union(AU) and cooperating partners for its contributions to maintaining peace in that country. Gen Alibuzwi urged troops to observe all UN regulations, including avoiding sexual exploitation and abuse, which is classified as a serious misconduct and could lead to the repatriation of the entire battalion.
He said the UN operates on zero tolerance to sexual exploitation and abuse. “Do not go and dent the good reputation we have gained so far as Zambia defence forces,” he said. And United States (US) Embassy in Zambia Charge d’ Affairs Martin Dale said Zambian battalions have played an important role in restoring and maintaining peace in CAR. Mr Dale cited the recent incident where a rebel group known as Popular Front for the Rebirth of CAR attempted to overrun Birao, the town where Zambian battalion headquarters is located. He said with support from CAR, the forces dealt with the attempt and the rebels withdrew.
Mr Dale pledged to continue supporting UN’s efforts to restore peace in CAR. “This year, UN’s contribution to the sixth battalion pre-deployment training will include US$200,000 in navigation, communication, protective and medical equipment. “Next month, we will donate pre-fabricated buildings valued at US$525,000 which will provide modern built classrooms at Nanking,” Mr Dale said. And British High Commission in Zambia political secretary Bicker Stevens said the Zambia Army has a successful UN peacekeeping operation story which the United Kingdom is happy to be part of