FROM: KENYAN PRESS, AUG/22/2016, SSN;
President Uhuru Kenyatta and US Secretary of State John Kerry have expressed concerns over the slow implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement.
In a meeting at State House in Nairobi on Monday, President Kenyatta informed Mr Kerry that the recent violence in the neighbouring country had had serious implications on the peace agreement signed in August last year.
According to Mr Kenyatta, the process has been “sluggish and under severe threat due to lack of commitment by the parties involved.”
According to a statement to newsrooms, Mr Kenyatta told Mr Kerry that the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) council of ministers had created a roadmap to end the fighting in South Sudan.
Consequently, Mr Kenyatta urged the US and the international community not to relent in their support for the region aimed at finding a long-lasting solution to the conflict in South Sudan.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has added his voice to the concern over the slow implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement. With the pact signed in August last year still hanging in the balance, the consequences are dire for Africa’s youngest nation, which has not known tranquility for over two years.
South Sudan’s independence had been expected to usher in peace, stability, and prosperity. However, it has turned into a nightmare for the ordinary South Sudanese as the sabre-rattling by their leaders continues.
The topmost US diplomat, who was in Kenya on a peace mission that included discussing measures to combat terrorism in the region, was briefed by President Uhuru Kenyatta on the recent fighting in South Sudan and the efforts being made under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority (Igad) on Development to end the violence.
Though the volatile situation in Juba has been compounded by the recent sacking of Dr Riek Machar as deputy president, President Kenyatta assured Mr Kerry that the Igad council of ministers has created a road map to end the fighting.
The South Sudanese deserve peace so they can rebuild their lives and develop their country. The leaders must step back from their inflated egos and sue for peace to put South Sudan back on the right track.
“There is absolutely no question that we need to move forward with the deployment of the regional protection force authorised by the UN Security Council,” Kerry said after meeting with five regional foreign ministers in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed also urged a speedy deployment. “When should it be there? Sooner rather than later,” she said.
In the wake of fresh fighting in the South Sudanese capital Juba last month, Kenya offered to provide troops for a new force, approved by the Security Council on August 12, alongside Ethiopia and Rwanda.
The 4,000 new troops will join 12,000 already deployed as part of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) which has been widely criticised for its serial failure to protect civilians.
Not an ‘intervention force’
Mohamed said a “gradual deployment” would allow troops to reach Juba more quickly.
“Any number of soldiers that goes in in the name of a protection force would be welcome and would open the door to everything else,” she said.
Kerry said the new force would only seek to improve security in Juba and allow for the implementation of a peace deal signed a year ago.
“This is not an intervention force, it is a protection force, with a very clear mandate to protect people, to ensure access, freedom of movement and to be free from ambush or attack of any sort,” he said.
No timeline has been given for the deployment but South Sudan’s government has expressed strong reservations over the plan and called for further discussions.
“We want to know the mandate of this protection force,” said South Sudan Vice President Taban Deng Gai during a visit to the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Monday. “We want to sit with them in Juba, not in New York.”
Deng is strengthening his position after seizing the vice presidency from his old friend and ally Riek Machar who was forced to flee Juba during last month’s fighting.
Kerry signalled that Machar’s ouster did not undermine the August 2015 peace agreement of which he was a key signatory. “Legally, under the agreement, there is an allowance for the replacement of personnel and that has been effected with the appointment of a new vice president,” he said.
Kerry also announced an additional $138 million (122 million euros) in aid for South Sudan where 2.5 million people have been uprooted by war since December 2013 and close to half the population is in need of emergency food aid. END