26 December 2013

East Africa: Uhuru in Juba to Lead EAC Peace Talks

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived in Juba, South Sudan on Thursday for a one day official visit aimed at resolving the ongoing crisis in the country.

The plane carrying the President and his delegation touched down at Juba International Airport shortly before 10 a.m.

On arrival, President Kenyatta was received by senior South Sudanese Government officials and Kenya's Ambassador Cleland Leshore.

President Kenyatta, who is the current chair of East African Community (EAC), is leading a high powered delegation for talks with the host President Salva Kiir on the ongoing political crisis in the neighbouring country at State House, Juba.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is also attending the talks.

Mediation talks between the parties involved began earlier in the week with a ministerial delegation from the development agency IGAD.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed was part of the team.

Thursday's meeting precedes an Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit slated to be held in Nairobi on Friday.

Deputy President William Ruto confirmed on Wednesday that Kenya has taken necessary steps in organizing various meetings aimed at exploring ways of attaining peace in South Sudan noting that the country is key partner in various development projects.

"Our President is talking to various regional leaders to come up with a framework and mechanisms to resolve the problem in South Sudan," Ruto said on Tuesday

The African Union and IGAD released a joint statement, urging dialogue and an end to conflict.

"The AU and IGAD are profoundly concerned by reports of the mobilization of tribal militias in South Sudan, which threaten to further escalate the conflict and transform it into an exceptionally destructive inter-ethnic violence that would put in danger the very existence of South Sudan," the groups warned.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has expressed willingness to negotiate an end to the fighting, now in its second week, which has killed many hundreds.

His rival, former Vice President Riek Machar, has also said he is ready for talks, but is demanding that Kiir step down, accusing him of being dictatorial.

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