Why Machar-Kiir breakthrough matters for Kenyans

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit and former Vice President and rebel leader Riek Machar, recently, in Juba / COURTESY

There is finally light at the end of the tunnel in the formation of the transitional government of national unity in following opposition leader Riek Machar’s acceptance to rejoin the government as the First Vice President on Friday.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition leader met with President Salva Kiir in Juba on Thursday ahead of the February 22 deadline, and agreed to form the transitional administration.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir announced on Thursday an agreement with his would-be First Vice President to form the revitalized transitional agreement.

Following a meeting with SPLM-IO leader, President Kiir told reporters that he has agreed with Machar to form the unity government on Saturday.

They also agreed to address pending issues later.

“We have discussed in greater length to form the government as scheduled,” Dr Machar said.

“South Sudanese should not be held hostage any longer. I and the president (sic) agreed on the time frame of implementing the other outstanding issues in the agreement.”

Kiir met with Machar in presence of the Sudanese leading member of the Sovereign Council Mohamed Hamdan Daglo Hemetti.

This comes just a day after the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission called on the parties to the agreement and other stakeholders to prepare for the formation of the unity government.

RJMEC interim chairman Ambassador Augostino Njoroge said, “I call on the parties to capitalise on the gains made since the signing of the R-ARCSS on September 12, 2018, and continue to build towards lasting and sustainable peace in South Sudan”.

He spoke in Juba on Thursday, February 20, before postponing the 14th RJMEC monthly meeting. after it did not secure requisite quorum to proceed. The meeting was postponed to next month.

Njoroge commended President Kiir for the compromise he made to revert the number of states to 10 as outlined in his letter to IGAD date February 15, 2020.

“In that regard, I applaud the leadership of IGAD and the regional Special Envoys for the role they played in helping the parties to break the deadlock on the number and boundaries of states,” he said.


WHY IT MATTERS FOR KENYA: The Brief’s Michael Mureithi explains

According to the Relief Web, Kenya is host to 114,432 South Sudanese refugees as of end of October 2018. If peace returns to South Sudan, nationals will be able to go back home and relive Kenya the pressure of hosting them in the country.

Also, when the war broke out again in 2016, national carrier Kenya Airways, Fly 540 and KCB Group were among Kenyan companies that suffered heavy losses.

Several other small and medium enterprises owned by foreigners, including Kenyans,  closed down, while traders bringing goods into the country, particularly foodstuffs and other consumer products, are operating in a difficult environment. Peace will likely change this situation, considering that South Sudan largely depends on imports.

Kenya, being one of the largest foreign investors in South Sudan, had its nationals invest in various sectors, including banking, insurance, aviation, construction, hospitality, and information and communication technologies, transportation, and wholesale and retail trade.

Regional stability is another important issue to consider. As long as the neigbour’s house is burning, you can’t sit pretty. The risk with instability is the proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons.

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