NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – President Uhuru Kenyatta Friday oversaw the start of a new initiative in the efforts to stabilise South Sudan that will see two parallel peace processes merged.
Former senior political detainees who were released through President Kenyatta’s intervention during the early days of the conflict in South Sudan will also play a bigger role in reconciling the warring factions.
Speaking at State House, Nairobi, after a lengthy meeting attended by representatives of the IGAD peace process, the Arusha peace talks and 10 former SPLM officials, President Kenyatta announced that the South Sudan peace process will now have a new impetus to bring the war to an end.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Tedros Adhanom, who is the chairman of the IGAD Council of Ministers and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed represented IGAD while the Secretary General of Tanzania’s ruling party, CCM, Hon. Abdirahman Kinana and special envoys from South Africa represented the guarantors of the Arusha Accord.
The two South African envoys were Amb. Reddy Mampane and Amb. Mandlenkosi Memela.
The IGAD peace process has been going on for two years but has been marked by lack of adherence to agreements by the two warring sides led by President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar.
The Arusha peace talks to re-unify SPLM was an initiative by Tanzania and South Africa with an aim to reunite the SPLM.
Despite being complimentary to each other, the two processes have not resulted in an end to the conflict.
It is for this reason that President Kenyatta had embarked on a mission to merge the two peace processes so that they can have one focus.
He had also said that the former political detainees should play a bigger role in reconciliation process without taking sides.
The President announced that the two processes have been merged and the former detainees will go back home to start reconciling President Kiir and Mr Machar.
“Today, the two processes have come together and the former detainees who have been in Nairobi are ready to go back home to bring peace back to their country by reconciling the warring leaders,” he said when he addressed a press conference at State House.
President Kenyatta said the return of the former detainees to South Sudan as they embark on their peace mission will be officially announced during the Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1.
“Five of the former detainees who are here today will head back home to lay the groundwork for an all-inclusive process to bring together the two sides in the conflict,” he said.
The former detainees will be accompanied by the Deputy President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa who will also be present at the Madaraka Day celebrations at Nyayo Stadium.
IGAD ministers who have been overseeing the IGAD peace process and Secretary General of Tanzania’s ruling party will also accompany the team to Juba.
President Kenyatta called on the former detainees, six of them former Generals, to be selfless to ensure the people of South Sudan get peace.
“We want the people of South Sudan to enjoy the prosperity that independence should have brought them,” he said.
He urged them to care about the people of South Sudan and not the positions in government.
“Go back home where you belong with a spirit to heal and the whole region is ready to help you but you have to help us help the people of South Sudan. Talk to the two leaders and also the Generals in the bush,” said the President.
Pagan Amum, who held senior positions in South Sudan including being the Secretary General of SPLM, said one of the reasons that motivates to reconcile the warring groups was to pay back President Kenyatta for his efforts to bring back peace in their country and for his intervention to have former SPLM leaders freed.
He said President Kenyatta saved the lives of the detainees when he personally called President Kiir and asked him to release the former officials to Kenya.
“You have saved our lives from our own hands but what is the use of our lives if we cannot go back and save other lives,” said Amum who spoke on behalf of the other South Sudanese leaders in the meeting before the press conference.
He said they are not interested in any position in Government but will use all efforts to reunite President Kiir and his former Vice President for the sake of the people.
“It is not moral for us to continue staying in the safety of Kenya because we still bleed when our brothers and sisters die back at home,” he said.
Amum said the peace talks have not made significant progress so far because the South Sudanese leaders, including himself, have been stubborn.
“Your efforts have not failed. We will restore your dignity and the dignity of South Sudan,” said Amum.
Amum said their first task is to unite the SPLM party and to deal with obstacles blocking the IGAD process.
Others who accompanied Mr Amum were Deng Alor, Kosti Manibe, Cirino Hiteng, Chol Tong, Rebecca Garang, John Luk, Oyai Deng, Madut Biar and Majak Agot.