NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11 – Deputy President William Ruto on Wednesday revealed that South Sudan rebels had agreed to release a Kenyan pilot and plane they had been holding hostage for 10 days.
He said the government was now working on modalities to ensure the pilot and plane are returned safely to Kenya at the earliest opportunity.
“We managed to persuade the rebels to release a Kenyan plane and pilot who have been held for the last 10 days in rebel controlled territory and the modalities will now be concluded so that the plane and pilot can be recovered and sent back to Nairobi,” he reported on his return from the 26th Extra-Ordinary IGAD Head of State Summit in Addis Ababa.
The plane is reported to belong to a charter company that delivers humanitarian aid to South Sudan and was detained because the pilot was in possession of firearms.
A newspaper report had said the pilot was carrying two pistols.
The rebels, it is believed, detained him because they thought he had been sent by President Salva Kiir to assassinate rebel leaders in the area.
Such occurrences, Ruto said, should however be a thing a past following the 26th Extra-Ordinary IGAD Head of State Summit held in Addis Ababa and at which he represented President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He explained that Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, meeting for the first time face-to-face in Addis Ababa, agreed to sign an implementation matrix for the cessation of hostilities agreement signed on May 9.
“We have included a timeframe that did not exist initially to be able to progress what for the last six months has not happened. We are now confident that we should be able to see a resolution of the situation in South Sudan in the coming days,” he said.
The time frame being 60 days within which both sides should among other things allow, “unhindered and unconditional access to humanitarian agencies to provide food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies,” Ruto said and in the provision of which the Kenyan pilot and plane were detained.
Ruto also reported that it had been agreed, during the summit, that a framework for a transitional government in South Sudan be in place in the next two months.
“That was agreed yesterday after five hours of deliberation between the IGAD heads of state and the two leaders,” Ruto explained.