JUBA – Kenya on Tuesday led mediation talks between South Sudan leaders amid efforts to restore the peace process.
The talks held at Naivasha aimed at extending, deepening and consolidating the South Sudan peace process, in sync with the overarching principle of inclusivity and leaving none behind.
Chief Administrative Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ababu Namwamba said on March 8, Kenya played host to the Rome Initiative for Political Dialogue in South Sudan, underwritten by the Community of Sant’Egidio who are the mediator of the political dialogue between the Government of South Sudan and the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA).
This initiative he said aims to encourage non-signatories to the Revitalized Agreement for Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) to join the Transitional Government in Juba.
According to Namwamba, in just under four months, South Sudan will mark ten years of independent Statehood.
“This will undoubtedly rekindle memories of the euphoric scenes that filled the streets of Juba and across South Sudan, East African capitals and other cities of the world on July 9th, 2011 as the newest member of the community of nations was born. A peaceful, stable and prosperous South Sudan was seen then as now as vital not just for citizens of the country, but also for the broader regional peace and security architecture,” he said.
The CAS said it should be recalled that Kenya has walked with South Sudan every step of this chequered journey, playing instrumental roles in the pursuit of peace and stability in this cherished neighbour.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA), which brought the curtains down on two decades of a bloody civil conflict – culminating in the successful referendum on the independence of the Republic of South Sudan – was signed in Kenya’s resort town of Naivasha, 80 kms north of the capital, Nairobi.
“It was, therefore, of quite symbolic significance that Naivasha hosted the latest significant round of talks aimed at extending, deepening and consolidating the South Sudan peace process, in sync with the overarching principle of inclusivity and leaving none behind. This fourth round of the series of the talk is the first to be hosted out of Rome where the initial three rounds have been held,” he said.
He said Kenya is still committed to complete the journey it started with the great people of South Sudan.
“We, therefore, impress upon the various South Sudanese parties to bridge the trust deficit and build consensus on the Declaration of Principles,” he said.
Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the special Adviser to the President of South Sudan, led the government delegation to the talks, while the opposition SSOMA was led by General Paul Malong Awan Anei, leader of the South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) and General Pagan Amum Okiech leader of the Real SPLM.
The Star has established that a delegation of the African Union on Peace and Security which is being chaired by Kenya is set to travel to South Sudan end of this month to assess the situation.
So far the two worrying sides have initialed and signed the Declaration of recommitment to the Cessation of hostilities.
The Declaration according to insiders recommits both parties to the Rome Process while agreeing to continue the political dialogue, the objective being to address concerns and the root causes of the conflict in order to achieve just, all-inclusive and sustainable peace in South Sudan.
Last week the two sides initialed and signed the Declaration of Principles that anchors the framework in which the parties will discuss the substantive issues.
The political dialogue and conclusion of the two Declarations was witnessed by the Kenyan delegation, the Special Envoy of Uganda, the Special Envoy of IGAD, the UN Security Council’s Special Representative of the Panel of Experts on South Sudan, Special Representative of the European Union for the Horn of Africa, the Interim Chairperson of the Revitalised Joint Mechanism Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), as well as Diplomats from Sudan, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
“Kenya’s hosting of this latest round of peace talks on South Sudan is consistent with her role as a guarantor of regional peace and security, and dovetails well with the African Union twin mantra of Silencing of the Guns in Africa and African Solutions for African Problems,” Namwamba said.
“A peaceful and stable South Sudan is integral to this agenda and to the stability of the region. Even with the added responsibilities as a non-permanent Member of the UN Security Council and current Chair of the AU Peace and Security Council, Kenya will continue to do what we do best: talking the talk and walking the walk for peace, stability and shared prosperity both in our neighborhood and globally,” he said.
The Naivasha talks further provided an update on the overall political situation, the evolution of the transition including the peace process launched following the establishment of the transitional government.
Another meeting is expected to happen next week to provide an update on the current situation in South Sudan considering that Presidential and parliamentary elections are to be held this year before the actual field visit between March 28 and 30.