12 June 2018

East Africa: Chance for South Sudan

Photo: allafrica.com
Left: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Top-right: South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. Bottom-right: Riek Machar.

The signs of tangible movement towards resolving the deadly conflict in South Sudan is good news for the region. President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Dr Riek Machar, have in separate engagements shown their willingness to end the stalemate.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, as Kenya's special envoy to the South Sudan peace mission, has within the past two weeks made contact with both Mr Kiir, in Juba, and Dr Machar in South Africa, where he fled to at the peak of deadly skirmishes in Juba.

Mr Odinga, who knows both men pretty well, is upbeat that this initiative could bear fruit.

HANDSHAKE

Interestingly, Mr Odinga has turned envoy just after reconciling with his hitherto archrival, President Uhuru Kenyatta, and sealing their pact with a handshake that has become the symbol of political reconciliation.

Mr Kiir and Dr Machar have an example they can emulate to end the suffering in their country. They will, definitely, also be inspired by another recent highly publicised handshake in the region between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his former top ally-turned-foe, Dr Kiiza Besigye.

The newest East African Community member has great potential that can be harnessed for its development and regional prosperity, but that cannot happen when it is so deeply divided and engulfed in a bloody conflict.

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