Shining a spotlight on some of the key security stories from across the Commonwealth.
1. UK and Singapore to strengthen ties in cybersecurity.
In a step to strengthen digital connectivity, three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed on 29 November between the UK and Singapore, the third of which addresses protecting of state interests online and maintaining a secure cyberspace.
The MOUs are a pretext to a wider Digital Economy Agreement currently in the process of being negotiated between the two countries, which also include agreements on digital trade and identity systems. Singapore’s Minister for Communications Josephine Teo and the UK’s Secretary of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries signed the MOUs at the London Future Tech Forum. Teo stated the MOUs ‘strengthen the links between Singapore and the UK in digital trade facilitation, digital identities and cybersecurity. Such partnerships make digital transactions easier, safer and cheaper’.
2. Uganda steps up efforts against the ADF.
The Ugandan military, in cooperation with Congolese forces, conducted air and artillery strikes on Tuesday against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). One day after this announcement, an unknown number of Ugandan soldiers were deployed into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a joint operation, though witnesses say they saw hundreds entering the country. With respect to the air strikes, Flavia Byekwaso, Ugandan army spokeswoman, stated that ‘targets were accurately hit’.
It comes after DRC revealed it had been working with its neighbours on intelligence sharing over the last few months; ‘We have said there will be concerted actions’, Patrick Muyaya, communications minister of the DRC government said. Residing in the Rwenzori region on the border between the two countries, the ADF were named responsible for a number of attacks in Kampala by the Ugandan government in recent weeks, including coordinated suicide bombings at the beginning of November.
3. Cattle Rustling conflict kills 4 in Kerio Valley, Kenya.
Four people have been killed following an attack by bandits in the Kerio Valley, western Kenya, prompting the National Council of Non-Governmental Organizations’ (NGOs) chairman Stephen Cheboi to urge for strong governmental action. It comes just three days after over 40 armed bandits stole 43 animals in Kaptora. Reacting to the growing problem of cattle rustling in the region, Cheboi stated ‘these incidents should come to an end, we urge Government to take stern measures to end innocent killings that have engulfed the area as a result of barbaric acts of raids and banditry’.
The incident occurred on Saturday, with an unknown number of livestock taken by bandits. ‘Our security apparatus must move with speed to assure that those who terrorized innocent citizens… will be brought to book’, Cheboi continued. Last month, in an attempt to suppress the frequency of these attacks, Chief Administrative Secretary for Agriculture Lawrence Angolo Omuhaka announced government plans to install chips in livestock for their tracking, which is hoped to begin next year.
4. Brunei and Australia to expand bilateral defence ties.
The 18th Joint Defence Working Committee (JDWC) was held last week, in which Brunei Drussalam’s Ministry of Defence and Australia’s Department of Defence sought to bolster defence and military cooperation. The potential to work together through courses, training and exercises were discussed, as well as cooperation in international events such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting that will take place next year. The JDWC was signed in 1999, and, in the words of Brunei’s Ministry of Defence, ‘serves as a framework for fostering closer defence relations and cooperation between the defence establishments and armed forces of both countries’.