By Deng Machol
Juba – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged South Sudanese leaders to coalesce the peace dividends to accelerate the country’s devastated social and economic growth.
South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011 after decades of scorched-earth conflict, but East Africa’s youngest country returned into another civil war in late 2013 followed a political disagreement between president Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. The five-year conflict has so far killed 400,000 people and uprooted four million people from their homes, and further devastated the country’s economy.
South Sudan president Salva Kiir travelled to Nairobi on Monday for two – days State visit, lobby for peace implementation’s financial support and political cooperation.
South Sudan just days away to celebrate its 8th Anniversary of the independence, president Kenyatta said that the moment had come for the patriotic men and women of Africa’s youngest nation to secure their place in national, regional, continental and global arena.
“The leadership of South Sudan, across the entire spectrum, have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to forge for lasting peace that provides the internal stability and enabling environment for your country’s take-off, both economically and socially,” President Kenyatta told visiting President Kiir, on Monday evening when he and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta hosted President Kiir and his delegation to a state banquet that was also attended by Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at State House, Nairobi.
On his part, President Kiir thanked President Kenyatta for inviting him for the State Visit, saying it has strengthened the bond of friendship between the two sisterly countries.
“I want to assure that South Sudanese and the great people of Kenya are one people. We share common borders and we are good neighbours,” said President Kiir. Further assured that South Sudan will never abandon its brothers and sisters in Kenya and underscored the key role that Kenya played in South Sudan’s journey to independence.
However, Kenyan president urged the leadership of South Sudan to flout the pessimists by abandoned their tribal discrepancies and delivering unity, humility, tranquility, peace and security to their country.
“South Sudan, in this moment, can crystallize the optimism and hope that all nations of the world had for it when your nation gained independence on 9th July 2011,” said Kenyatta.
South Sudan has now prioritized the search for a sustainable political solution to the five – year conflict that have beset a country’s progress.
Months ago, President Kiir, designated vice president Machar, including Taban Deng and Ms. Rebecca Garang traveled to Vatican for the ‘spirit retreat,’ aimed to anointed them and forge the heart for forgiveness and reconciliation to implement peace deal. But things fall apart despite the Holiness Pope Francis knelt down and kissed their feet.
“Eminent African and global leaders have pledged their support for South Sudan’s quest for sustained peace, including His Holiness Pope Francis; an indicator of the deep continental and global desire to see a united, peaceful and prosperous South Sudan,” he said. “We are fortunate that the South Sudan of today has bold and dynamic sons and daughters, such as Your Excellency, who have requisite vision and stature that allows them to bring together all sections of South Sudanese society into the common fold,” Kenyatta told Kiir.
Kenya president, however says his government is ever ready and always at hand to play whatever fundamental role to create an all-inclusive transitional mechanisms and institutions that will return South Sudanese people together and provide for the full realization of that nation’s democracy.
Also, Kenyatta says Kenya will continue to provide technical and diplomatic support to facilitate the implementation of the peace process including deployment of military ceasefire monitors as well as technical advisors to various transitional and implementation mechanisms.
“Kenya is cognizant of the fact that the political, security, economic and humanitarian situation in South Sudan will largely be determined by the success in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS); which was signed by the Parties on 12th September 2018,” President Kenyatta said.
The commitment to the peace deal will allow South Sudan to put aside the yoke of inessential conflict and internal disunity that has limited the East Africa community’s country’s achievement of its full potential, Kenyatta said. “I, therefore, urge all parties to the process to exercise tolerance and political goodwill, so as to move the country forward.”
With permanent peace, cohesion and security in place in the Horn of Africa’s country, its will be able to take advantage of the immense opportunities available on the African continent, including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) which has opened enormous trade and investment opportunities among African countries and as well as the East African Community, which South Sudan is the youngest member.
President Kiir and key opposition groups, including main opposition leader, ex-rebel Machar signed a fragile ceasefire and revitalized peace deal in September, 2018, auspicious to end the political violence, but plans to form a power-sharing in May, this year were delayed after there was no funding to disarm, establish cantonments, rehabilitate and integrate militias and rebels across the country.