SA signs military deal with Niger

2017-10-25 15:21
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. (File, Netwerk24)

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. (File, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - South Africa has signed a military memorandum of understanding with Niger.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula signed the agreement with her counterpart from Niger, Kalla Moutari, on Wednesday in her office in Parliament, where she met the Nigerien delegation.

Through an interpreter, Moutari told News24 that the agreement would allow an information exchange between the two militaries, as well as for the training of military personnel and the acquisition of military equipment.

"We wish that there will be good co-operation," he said.

He said it formalised a relationship between the two governments that already existed.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the most important aspect was that a technical defence committee would be established. She said this committee would determine how often it would meet.

Military conflict in Niger

Each of the countries would retain their own criminal jurisdiction, Mapisa-Nqakula added.

This means South African soldiers will be under the jurisdiction of South African law when in Niger, and vice versa. Niger has the death penalty.

"We are happy because they are one of the countries preoccupied to ensure there are peace and stability in the region," said Mapisa-Nqakula.

She said that when President Zuma met his counterpart from Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, the two commanders in chief always talked about peace.

"So we're happy," reiterated Mapisa-Nqakula.

Military conflict in Niger made headlines earlier this month when an American and Nigerien patrol was ambushed by jihadists close to Niger's border with Mali. Five soldiers from Niger were killed, and four from the US.

The US has 800 troops deployed in Niger as part of a French-led mission to defeat ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram in West Africa.

Asked if the memorandum of understanding meant that SA would be involved in this mission, Mapisa-Nqakula said this was one of the matters that would be discussed.

"What is important is that we now have a legal framework," said Mapisa-Nqakula.

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