President Uhuru Kenyatta has praised the East African Community military games, saying they have become a key pillar of regional integration.
Speaking Friday at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, in Nairobi when he presided over the closing ceremony of the 12th edition of the East Africa Community (EAC) Military Games and Cultural Event 2019, President Kenyatta said the games have helped in consolidating cooperation among member states.
“It has helped in deepening and widening cooperation among partner states, which resonates well with our efforts to build bridges of unity and fraternity within the region,” President Kenyatta said.
The EAC military games and cultural event is organized within the EAC Framework for Cooperation in Defence and in accordance with Article 125 of the Treaty and Article 2 of the Protocol on Cooperation in Defence Affairs which include military training, joint operations, visits and exchange of information.
The President commended the military for safeguarding the freedoms of the people of the East African region and for keeping them safe.
He pointed out that the military in the EAC member states has continued to play a vital role in securing regional peace, the foundation for deeper and broader economic, political, social and cultural integration.
“I, therefore, thank our gallant soldiers for keeping our people safe and protecting our freedoms. You are an asset to your respective nations and collectively to the community as a whole,” President Kenyatta said.
The Kenyan leader encouraged the militaries of the EAC member states to uphold the spirit of solidarity and partnership in order to ensure the success of regional and international efforts towards universal peace.
The President urged the EAC governments to support all measures designed to establish and strengthen the bonds of friendship among the defence forces of partner states.
Recognizing that the Republic of South Sudan participated in the event for the first time, the Head of State said the 12th edition of EAC military games and cultural event heralds a new era within the community.
“This, indeed, is an important milestone and signals the bright future of the Community. We are honoured to welcome our brothers and sisters from South Sudan to their first EAC Military Games and Cultural Event, and we look forward to their continued participation in future events,” the President said.
He commended the Chiefs of the Defence Forces (CDFs) from the EAC member state of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan for their commitment towards sports in the region.
“Your support is the reason we continuously see successful military events of this nature. The successes we have achieved in the last two weeks have brought glory and honour, not only to our Defence Forces, but also to the East Africa Community as a whole,” the President said.
Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo commended all the participants for competing gracefully and playing fair.
The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) of Kenya General Samson Mwathethe expressed optimism that the invaluable experience the participants gained during the event will enrich their abilities as soldiers and prepare them to defend the ideals of the EAC.
“I hope that all participants have interacted well, creating lifelong friendships that will grow into productive activities for the benefit of the community and the region,”General Mwathethe said.
The two-weeks event that kicked off on August 11, saw military sports men and women from the six EAC member states battle it out in football (Men), netball (women), volleyball(women), basketball (men) and cross-country (men and women) competitions.
In netball, the gold medal went to Uganda won gold in first position followed by Kenya and Tanzania respectively.
In women volleyball Uganda emerged the winners while Rwanda and Kenya settled for second and third positions. Rwanda won in basketball followed by Kenya and Uganda in second and third positions.
Kenya scooped top honours in cross-country for men and women with Uganda in second while Tanzania settled for third position.
South Sudan will host the next edition of the annual military games in 2020.