JUBA, Nov 12 – Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday met and held talks with the president of South Sudan Salva Kiir in Juba.
The DPM assured president Kiir that the next elections in March will be peaceful, adding that many political leaders were working together to ensure reconciliation and national unity.
The DPM was accompanied to Juba by cabinet ministers Eugene Wamalwa, Charity Ngilu and Naomi Shaban; MPs Musikari Kombo, Najib Balala and Kiema Kilonzo. They met the South Sudan leader at the Office of the President in Juba.
Kenyatta said the leaders were determined to form an all-inclusive government whose priority would be stability in Kenya and the region.
President Kiir said only Kenyans have the right to determine who their leaders will be, reiterating that they have the right to be to be the shapers of their destiny just like the people of South Sudan.
“The people of South Sudan expressed their will through the referendum in January 2011. So must Kenyans be allowed to do the same”, Kiir said the only role the government of South Sudan sees for itself in the election is to preach peace.
He said it was good that leaders of different political parties were working and campaigning together.
The visit to South Sudan comes barely days after Kenyatta led another delegation to Burundi where the same group of leaders met with President Pierre Nkurunziza in Bujumbura.
President Nkurunziza had also said Kenyans have the right to elect their own leaders without undue interference from external forces, a message reiterated by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete when he met with a delegation from Kenya led by Kenyatta three weeks ago.
President Kiir disclosed that next week, he will re-launch the Juba-Khartoum pipeline after successful completion of negotiations with Sudan.
The head of state pointed out that South Sudan neighbours will be the first to benefit from the country’s success.
Responding to concerns over insecurity by the Kenyan delegation, the president re-assured them that South Sudan will “do everything” to ensure the security of Kenyans within its borders.
The DPM praised the good relations between Kenya and South Sudan, adding that the newly independent state had welcomed many investors from Kenya.
The DPM congratulated President Kiir for “tremendous progress” South Sudan had made in one year of independence.
At the Airport, Kenyatta was received by Kenyans living in Juba and told them that opportunities in Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia would be boosted by the Sh1.5 trillion Lamu port-South Sudan-Ethiopia transport (LAPSSET) corridor project.
He said Kenyans have learnt their lesson and do not want a repeat of what happened in 2007.
This, he said, was the reason he and other leaders were working ahead of the polls to ensure unity and progress.
Responding to the plea by Kenyans for voter registration of close to 70,000 of them in South Sudan, Kenyatta said their rights were guaranteed by the constitution.
They also want Kenya to negotiate with South Sudan over visa fees, saying the $50 is “too high”.