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SADC: Peacekeeping exercise opens in South Africa

[Guinea-Bissau] Elections.
Young men on the election campaign trail (UN-OCHA)

About 4,000 defence and police force members from 10 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are in South Africa for a peacekeeping exercise code named Operation Blue

"The initiative for the exercise is political in its nature, and its ultimate aim is to make a contribution towards ensuring stability, peace and democracy in Africa as an essential element of building general prosperity in the Southern African region," a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) official told IRIN on Thursday.

The brigade-sized exercise began on 7 April at the SANDF's Battle School at Lohatla in the Northern Cape and is scheduled to run until the end of the month. It follows on from a smaller SADC peacekeeping drill held in Zimbabwe in 1997.

More than US $3 million has been budgeted for Blue Crane. Foreign military observers, as well as international organisations, aid agencies and non-governmental organisations are represented at the exercise. The countries participating are: Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia. Angola and Zimbabwe have only sent observer teams.

SADC regards a security and peacekeeping capacity as complimentary to its regional integration and development mandate.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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