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RUSSIA SECURITY OFFER: THANKS, BUT NOT YET - MINISTER

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MBABANE – Eswatini has not reached a point where it might require external assistance to strengthen its security.

This was a response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Thuli Dladla, when she was asked if the country was looking at exploring the option of collaborating with other nations in order to strengthen its security, especially the army. This was brought about by a statement that was made by the Russian Federation Ambassador to Eswatini, Alexander Surikov, during a press conference held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Mbabane on Tuesday. This reporter had asked the ambassador if his country had army personnel training army recruits who were currently undergoing training at Mbuluzi Army Barracks. The ambassador was also asked if his country, by any chance, would assist the kingdom to strengthen its security as well as the army in times of need.

Discussions

The ambassador said that would depend on discussions the two countries might have. He stated that in any case, it was always up to the Ministry of Defence to develop a method it would like to use to strengthen its military force. Surikov said if the need arose for the Eswatini Defence wing to reach out to the Russian Federation Defence, they would gladly assist. He explained that for them to reach that point, the governments, in terms of the ministers, could discuss if really there was a need to assist. In response,  Minister Dladla said they appreciated that the Russian Federation was willing to assist Eswatini tighten its security, but at the moment the country had not reached the point where it was looking at bringing in foreign army officers to keep peace or assist with security. “We are not there yet, I believe the country’s security is capable of dealing with the current situation in the country,” she said.

The minister said it was a pity that the outside world was sold other narratives about the state of security and unrest in the country. She said in as much as they could not deny that the situation was not the same like in previous years, it was not yet out of control. Dladla highlighted that the country had strong bilateral relations with Russia, that they were even looking at expanding further to other sectors, but not security. The minister noted that Russia had come forth and extended higher learning opportunities in several fields of study and professions, such as Medicine, Engineering, Mining as well as Security Intelligence. Adding, the minister said even if there was a need for engaging foreign army to tighten security, they would go through certain structures.

She noted that there were structures in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that the country might need to consult with when there was a serious security threat. She further noted that a similar case had occurred recently in Mozambique, where countries in the region released army personnel to keep peace in the northern part of the country.  Dladla added that Eswatini could also reach out to the African Union (AU) for assistance as well as the United Nations (UN), where Eswatini is a member State. She emphasised that Eswatini had not approached any country or imported security, personnel to tighten security, as the local security personnel were capable of safeguarding the nation.

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