By PATRICK VIDIJA
President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged to support the power-sharing deal between his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.
Kiir and Machar signed a ceasefire agreement in Khartoum on Sunday. President Uhuru and other regional leaders witnessed the pact in the latest attempt to restore peace in Africa’s youngest nation.
“Today, I offer you the promise of the people of Kenya to continue walking with you from this moment of great expectation to the full implementation of a Revitalised Agreement,” Uhuru said.
He said the agreement signed by President Kiir and Machar as well as other political parties signals their desire to end the conflict that has caused a lot of suffering to the people of South Sudan.
The agreement outlines guidelines on power-sharing and governance, including settling boundary disputes, which will be guided by a Boundary Commission, and provides for an avenue for the people of South Sudan to participate in a referendum if need be to settle those disputes.
“No matter how much the world invests in South Sudan
, it is incumbent on the people to find lasting peace for their country,” Uhuru said.
Presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Ismael Omar Guelleh (Djobouti), host Omar al-Bashir and Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre witnessed the signing of the peace pact.
Rwanda was represented by Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
Last week, Opposition leader Raila Odinga expressed disappointment in the unending crisis in South Sudan. However, he said Kenya will continue taking a central role in the negotiations between Kiir and Machar.
“We had hoped that independence in South Sudan would give way to reconstruction as happened in Vietnam and Algeria after protracted wars. But we have been disappointed,” Raila said.
“We, however, remain committed to the strategic partnership between our country and theirs and we will not give up,” Raila said on his Twitter page.
Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma backed Raila’s remarks. She said the prolonged political conflict had made Kenya feel frustrated following the deaths and displacement of thousands of people.
Juma said it is disheartening that South Sudan is not taking the trajectory of development as expected after attaining independence in 2011.
“This was the newest country; it had a lot of expectations after struggling for a very long time. The war is devastating. The level of humanitarian crisis is serious,” Juma said.
Uhuru appealed to the political leadership in South Sudan to secure the future of the region by commencing the implementation of the agreement.
“Informed by our shared and common experiences and grounded in a long history of solidarity between Kenya and South Sudan, I urge each leader to leverage the diversity of South Sudan and harness it to build strong and responsible structures that respond effectively to the needs of the people,” he said.