, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – East African Community Foreign Ministers have categorically stated that they support the continued stay of the Ugandan army in war-torn South Sudan.
Addressing journalists on Friday, Kenya’s Foreign Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said Uganda was only helping in protecting State property as well citizens.
She said the negotiation team by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to South Sudan was credible enough to continue with the ongoing peace talks between President Salvar Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar.
“After Uganda took its army to South Sudan there was an IGAD meeting that recognized the role they have played. We had a summit here and there was a communiqué that was adopted which supports the Ugandan troops to protect the infrastructure in South Sudan,” she stated.
The stand comes despite reports that Machar is not happy with IGAD for failing to prevail upon Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to withdraw his forces.
Machar has insisted that the hostilities between his forces and those of his rival President Kiir will persist unless the Ugandan forces are withdrawn, political detainees released and a State of emergency lifted.
During Friday’s meeting the EAC ministers also called on all humanitarian actors to provide all necessary assistance to all civilians and “urge the government of South Sudan and all armed groups to open humanitarian corridors and robustly ensure protection of civilian population.”
They appealed to both sides to engage in negotiations.
“We strongly urge the parties to the conflict to expedite the negotiations in pursuit of a political solution including an all inclusive dialogue among stakeholders concerned,” read a communiqué they signed.
It goes ahead to state that, “we encourage the parties to use the IGAD Summit held in Nairobi on 27th December 2013 to resolve their differences.”
Already they are reports that diplomats at the Foreign Affairs ministry are advising the Kenyan government to remain neutral in the South Sudan peace talks, and push for the release of political detainees.
A confidential document from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs seen by Capital FM News makes it clear that Kenya must adopt a non-partisan stand in the conflict for it to be seen to be a credible mediator.
“Kenya needs to remain neutral to remain a credible mediator in the face of challenges currently facing the peace process in South Sudan,” diplomats who have authored the advisory say, adding that “It may be in the interest of Kenya to pursue the release of detainees.”
The document dated January 15 notes that the progress of the peace talks is influenced by the issue of detainees and continued military posturing by parties on the ground. “The government (of South Sudan) intends to capture Bor while the opposition is strategizing to capture Malakal.”
The Sudan peace talks were launched on December 27 when Kenya hosted the 23rd Extra-Ordinary Summit of IGAD member states during which President Uhuru Kenyatta nominated renowned envoy Lazarus Sumbeiywo to jointly work with Ethiopia’s Seyoum Mesfin.
Mohamed also assured that Kenyan business were secure despite the continued wrangles.
“We have had conversations with the government of the Republic of South Sudan that we expect that our investment to be protected,” she affirmed.