, NAIROBI Kenya, Dec 30 – Three hundred and fifty more Kenyans were flown back home on Monday after a successful evacuation from South Sudan, the world’s newest nation which is on the verge of a civil war.
This latest batch of Kenyans who were stranded in South Sudan for two weeks, were flown by a military plane following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive.
Another 357 were brought home on Sunday after the evacuation of 480 others on Saturday, bringing to over 2000 Kenyans evacuated so far.
This follows military clashes in South Sudan which have intensified despite efforts by the international community to restore peace.
On Friday last week, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) gave the South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar until Tuesday to hold face-to-face talks in a bid to end the clashes.
Once the four-day deadline elapses the IGAD member states of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan announced that they would be forced to take unspecified action.
“The summit strongly condemns criminal acts of murder, sexual violence, looting and other criminal acts against civilians and unarmed combatants by any actor and demand that all involved be held responsible by their de-facto and or de jure leaders,” IGAD said, warning the crisis was likely to destabilize the region.
They also welcomed the United Nation’s resolution to bolster their peace keeping force in South Sudan saying it would complement their political efforts to restore peace in the newly-formed nation.
On Monday, AFP reported that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had warned South Sudan’s rebel chief Machar to comply with a ceasefire deal ending Tuesday or face action by regional nations.
The world’s youngest nation plunged into chaos on December 15 when President Kiir accused his former deputy of mounting a coup, sparking deadly violence believed to have left thousands dead.
“We gave Riek Machar some four days to respond, and if he doesn’t we shall have to go for him, all of us (IGAD), that is what we agreed in Nairobi,” Museveni told reporters after meeting Kiir in Juba.
Museveni did not clarify if his threat involved military action by regional nations in support of the government, but Ugandan troops deployed in South Sudan days after the fighting began, both to support Kiir and to help evacuate its citizens.
“The AU (African Union) bans all coups so when we had some problems here… we sent some forces here under Salva Kiir to see how we can help to restore order, it’s solidarity,” Museveni added.
“People here have suffered. Don’t you see the suffering here? I want to congratulate General Salva for defeating these fellows in the town here.”
While the government has said it was willing to observe a ceasefire, Machar — who was sacked as vice-president in July — has made demands including the release of his arrested political allies before committing to a truce.
The IGAD deal agreed in Nairobi on Friday said only that leaders would “consider taking further measures” if hostilities did not cease within the time-frame.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom both flew into Juba Monday for fresh talks with Kiir for a “follow-up on the decisions of the IGAD summit”, he said in a statement.