NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – Former President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday urged Inter-Government on Authority Development (IGAD) member states not to relent in their efforts of finding a peaceful solution to the South Sudan conflict, which was sparked by fighting in December last year leading to deaths and displacements of thousands.
Speaking after receiving a commendation from IGAD, the former President said leaders of the warring factions must be ready to make sacrifices for the sake of peace in the world’s youngest nation.
“This is a smaller matter than the creation of South Sudan and I know that crisis which we have, we shall find a solution because there is no way of avoiding it, even if personal reasons between those who are dealing with that matter is preventing them from seeing what little they are called upon to sacrifice,” he said.
“Like all great decisions, there is always a certain measure of sacrifice (which) each individual who is involved, is called upon to make here and there.”
Kibaki described the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement which led to the end of a 40-year civil war and subsequent independence of South Sudan as one of the major achievements the regional body has been able to oversee.
“The fact that we were at that moment signing an agreement, gave a lot of us who were involved in these matters plenty of joy; in the sense that for a long time we had felt they required to get there,” the former Head of State recalled.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is among regional leaders who have been spearheading peace in South Sudan where his counterpart Salva Kiir accused his former Vice President Riek Machar of attempting to overthrow him.
Kibaki warned that the ongoing unrest in South Sudan, if it unchecked, would create millions of internally displaced persons and refugees and a setback to regional development.
“I feel very sad that we are discussing, fighting and quarrelling with each other, and refusing to use that brain….yet you see the people who live in that Sudan and others trying to move to other regions not because they want to but because they see the challenge as very serious and they don’t see it being solved quickly,” Kibaki mourned.
He stressed that African ideas and contributions will be key to a successful dialogue in South Sudan.
Kibaki added: “IGAD and other regional bodies have a more significant role to play not only in securing permanent peace, but also in promoting trade, real regional socio-economic integration and interconnectivity between member states.”
The former Head of State added the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project as a monumental developmental vehicle with the capacity to change the economic prospects of the entire IGAD region.
IGAD was established in 1986 as a regional body that succeeded the earlier Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD), a multinational body founded with a focus on development and environmental control with a membership of eight countries that include Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Eritrea.
Tuesday’s function was the former president’s inaugural official engagement at his new private office in Nyari Estate. The award recognises the former President for his contribution to regional economic integration, peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa.
IGAD Executive Secretary Ambassador Mahboub Maalim said a 50-page pictorial book showcasing his legacy and the period he served as the chairman of IGAD (2006 -2008) and a medal will demonstrate the gratitude of the people of IGAD member states.