Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dalmas named in Juba peace team

By NATION REPORTER
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By PSCU
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President Uhuru Kenyatta has named opposition member of Parliament Dalmas Otieno one of his envoys in the South Sudan peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

President Kenyatta made the announcement when he met seven South Sudanese detainees who were released to Kenya last month.

Mr Otieno, the MP for Rongo and a Cabinet minister in the administrations of Presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, is a prominent member of the Orange Democratic Movement.

He was nominated to the coalition government formed after the 2008 post-election violence by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga where he was made Minister for the Public Service.

Mr Otieno was also one of those who represented ODM in the Kofi Annan-mediated talks with PNU after the post-election violence that led to the formation of the coalition government. He gained a reputation as a sober but astute negotiator.

Mr Otieno will join Lt-Gen Lazarus Sumbeiywo (Rtd) as President Kenyatta’s envoys to the talks.

In December, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) appointed Lt-Gen Sumbeiywo and Ethiopia’s Seyoum Mesfin to midwife talks between South Sudan rebels and Salva Kiir’s government.

DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS

Lt Gen Sumbeiywo was endorsed by President Kenyatta as the regional bloc moved to bring the parties to talk. Incidentally, Gen Sumbeiywo mediated talks between Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement which led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement  in 2005, a treaty that outlined the steps for the eventual secession of South Sudan.

Kenya has previously announced that it will support any diplomatic efforts to bring peace in Africa’s youngest nation.

The seven South Sudan detainees were due to fly to Addis Ababa on Wednesday to join all-party talks aimed at resolving the political crisis in their country.

President Kenyatta met the group at State House Nairobi before the leaders departed.

Mrs Rebecca Garang, widow of South Sudanese leader John Garang, was also present. The group asked the president to keep pushing for peace in their country.

President Kenyatta said Kenya had vast interests in South Sudan.

“It is in our interest that peace and stability is restored in your country and we will do everything we can to help on that agenda,” he said.

“We have no desire, no wish, other than peace, stability and prosperity for South Sudan,” he added.

“We will work with you. We will work to facilitate a return to normalcy.”

South Sudan exploded into violence in December. A special summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting in Nairobi late December hammered out a formula for a return to peace, which then culminated into agreements for the cessation of hostilities and a deal on the release of detainees.

Meanwhile, the United States has reiterated that the Ugandan army must leave South Sudan to stem genocide and allow citizens there to enjoy a future of peace and prosperity they voted for.

Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama’s new top diplomat for Africa, Ms Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the cessation of hostilities agreement signed between the Government of South Sudan and renegade Riek Machar forces also requires foreign troops to pull back to defensive positions.

“We feel deeply committed, given past lessons, to try to prevent the chaos and the genocide that too often comes [out] of the violence that can occur if things break down,” Mr Kerry told journalists from across 18 Sub-Saharan African countries during a virtual press conference on Tuesday. “We don’t want this to cascade into a more violent repetition of the past. So, that’s why we’re committed.”

An estimated two million South Sudanese died in nearly two decades of secession war with Sudan.

MILITARY INTERVENTION

Ugandan officials, in response to Washington’s initial February 8 call for withdrawal of foreign forces, insisted the UPDF were invited by President Kiir and would stay put on South Sudan soil, but that position seems under consideration.  

“The government of Uganda will, through appropriate channels and particularly the ministry of Foreign Affairs, prepare a response to the US call [for UPDF withdrawal],” said military spokesman Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, declining further comment.

Withdrawal of Ugandan troops, the only foreign force that raced to prop up Kiir’s faltering government, is one of pre-conditions set by Machar’s group at the ongoing IGAD-brokered talks in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia has joined Norway in publicly asking the UPDF to leave.

“Now that a cessation of hostilities has been signed, we, along with others, call on Uganda as well as other governments to pull back so that we can move the peace process forward and give the people of South Sudan what they have fought for, for more than 30 years,” assistant secretary Thomas-Greenfield said. 

Both she and Mr Kerry said they will remain deeply involved in issues of South Sudan because the US government under various administrations invested heavily to secure its independence from Sudan.

Intra-SPLA clashes snowballed into countrywide violence in December, last year, claiming thousands of lives, according to the UN.  President Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup, but the former vice President denied the charges.

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CHRONOLOGY
Coup claims sparked war

December 15: Fighting erupts in the South Sudan capital of Juba following claims by President Salva Kiir that his deputy, Riek Machar, wanted to overthrow him.

The fighting quickly spread to many other parts of the oil rich country.

Regional leaders under Igad were forced to intervene leading the parties to sign a cessation of hositilities pact in Ethiopia where comprehensive talks are being held.

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