Rwanda: June 13, 2003

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Britain has pledged $6.5 million and the United States donated $1 million, to boost the African force monitoring cease-fire in Burudni. The African Union Mission in Burundi (AMIB) force includes troops from South Africa, Ethiopia and Mozambique.

The South Africans currently have 908 soldiers deployed in Burundi, protecting political leaders who had returned from exile to join the interim government of Burundi. That function had previously been carried out by the SA Protection Support Detachment, which has been in Burundi since 2001. 

Whether the South African military is up to this level of activity is debatable, since they only spend about 1.6 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. This is far less than in other countries, like Botswana (5.5 percent) or Nigeria (4.5 percent). Coincidentally, Minister Mosiuoa Lekota told the press that very same day that South Africa's continental commitments mean that the South African National Defence Force will need more money. The South Africans are deploying twice as many troops as they anticipated when they set their last budget, but not gotten any more funds to support these moves. Opposition parties in South Africa are warning the government that commitments in other parts of the continent could become "Pretoria's Vietnam". - Adam Geibel

 

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