NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – Newly appointed UK Minister for the Department for International Development (DFID) James Wharton during his first official visit to Africa urged South Sudan to resolve renewed fighting in the capital, Juba.
In an interview with Capital FM News on Thursday, Wharton was concerned that the situation in South Sudan posed a serious threat to its citizens and its political stability which would also affect the region.
“The UK government is greatly concerned by the circumstances that we see in South Sudan. It has an impact on its people and has a regional impact. We want to see a solution,” he urged.
South Sudan is one of the few countries in the world with a rich economic resource of oil.
According to Wharton, despite its potential to boost its economy, the recent and ongoing civil war continues to deprive the country that prospective.
Though the international community and the region will continue to support the country implement the peace agreement, Wharton said the road to stability rests in the hands of the leaders who have an obligation to resolve the differences that have once again almost torn the country apart.
The security deterioration in South Sudan was a result of sudden conflict between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and former First Vice President Riek Machar on July 8.
The fighting in the capital, Juba, led to the killing of at least 300 people, mainly soldiers.
The situation has not improved with former Vice President Dr Riek Machar threatening to evict President Salva Kiir and capture Juba.
He has accused Kiir of sending his soldiers to kill him which has forced him to go into hiding.
READ: Riek Machar wants region to ensure his safety in Juba
Wharton, who was appointed by U.K’s new Prime Minister Theresa May on July 17, visited Marsabit in Northern Kenya during the second week of August.
Marsabit being one of the arid areas that bear the heaviest brunt of food insecurity and frequent seasons of drought, UK through DFID runs multiple projects intended to increase food production and among others support education programmes.
“There is huge potential across Kenya but there is also no denying that a lot of work needs to be done. In Marsabit I met people who are seeing their lives improve, who are seeing opportunities through DFID but also some of the changes they are seeing around them,” he explained.
Under David Cameron’s leadership, Wharton was the Northern Powerhouse minister.
He was a big supporter of the Brexit campaign spearheaded by former London Mayor Boris Johnson to Leave the EU.
According to Wharton, the exit of UK from the EU has given UK a bigger opportunity to engage directly with Africa to help the continent propel its economic potential.
“We will ensure we play our part in developing Africa to be the incredible world force that this great continent and many of the wonderful countries that make it up where it should be,” he explained.