August 31, 2016 (JUBA) – Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, has challenged his South Sudanese counterpart, President Salva Kiir, to implement the shaky August 2015 peace agreement which he signed with his former peace partner, Riek Machar, describing it as a “key ingredient for prosperity.”
Speaking in Juba on Tuesday - during a one-day official visit in which he held a closed door meeting with President Kiir - President Uhuru also said Kenya will help South Sudan to restore law and order.
“Stability and peace are the key ingredients for the prosperity that we wish for the people of South Sudan," said President Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking to reporters flanked by President Kiir in Juba.
Uhuru is the first head of state to visit Juba since fighting erupted between forces loyal to President Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. Machar, the opposition leader of an armed group, the SPLM-IO, returned to Juba in April and became First Vice President in accordance with the peace agreement signed one year ago.
Machar was however forced to flee for his life when his bodyguards clashed in the capital with forces loyal to President Kiir. The President then appointed Taban Deng Gai to replace Machar, a move the SPLM-IO supporters condemned as illegal. There are also concerns that the peace implementation process will be compromised by Machar’s absence.
President Uhuru said there is no option outside implementing the accord which was mediated by member states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The Kenyan leader also reminded that South Sudanese fought for decades for a peaceful country.
"I believe that is why they [South Sudanese] struggled so hard to achieve their independence — not for war, but for them to be able to prosper,” he said.
“We are here to give encouragement and support; we are here to say and to ask the government to push along the peace agreement and the reforms that were agreed to under that peace agreement,” President Kenyatta added.
President Kiir on his part said his government and new peace partner, Gai, will implement the peace agreement. He said there “is no fighting in Juba” contrary to perception by the international community. He blamed the media for reporting “unfounded” news.
“President Uhuru came to Juba as the first Head of State after our crisis,” said Kiir, referring to the fighting on 8 July in the State House, also known as J1, as he was meeting Machar.
“[President Uhuru’s visit] shows that the regional leadership is with us, and they are very concerned about the situation of South Sudan,” he added.
Kenya will contribute troops to 4,000 soldiers that will be drawn from the region as authorized by the United Nations Security Council. The foreign troops will provide protection for civilians and vulnerable leadership in the capital.