'US armed forces should stay out of Africa'

The United States Africa Command (Africom) should stay out of the African continent, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said yesterday.

The United States Africa Command (Africom) should stay out of the African continent, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said yesterday.

Africom was not really a new development, as the US has always had some kind of focus on the African continent, he told a media briefing in Cape Town.

"But, the Africom initiative has raised a lot of interest and a lot of attention, because at some point, there is a certain sense that Africa has to avoid the presence of foreign forces on its soil.

"There's a certain sense in the countries of our region - the Southern African Development Community (SADC) - that if there were to be an influx of armed forces into one or another of the African countries, that might affect the relations between the sister countries, and not encourage an atmosphere, or a sense, of security," he said.

The idea of a US focus on Africa was not something new as the US had always had some kind of overview of the situation here.

"Nevertheless, as indeed is the SADC adopted position, it is better if they did that from a distance, rather than come and make a presence that creates uncertainty."

SADC countries had agreed not to host Africom, or armed forces.

As far as he was aware, the majority of the other regions of the continent had also taken that position, Lekota said.

"My understanding is that the continental position is we have no quarrel with Africom as such, but the issue of its location on the continent.

"On that issue I think the continent is at one, that we wouldn't want to see new forces brought onto the continent," Lekota said. - Sapa

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