Kenya join Congo in pushing for Juba’s arms embargo removal

Kenya join Congo in pushing for Juba’s arms embargo removal
President Salva Kiir and Kenya’s SPecial Envoy to South Sudan, Kalonzo Musyoka. [Photo, Dennis Kivisu]

Kenya has declared her unwavering support for the lifting of the arms embargo which was imposed on South Sudan by the United Nations Security Council in July 2018.

The embargo legally obliges all UN member states to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms and related material – including ammunition, military vehicles and spare parts.

It also extends to technical support, training, and financial or other assistance related to military activities.

In an exclusive interview with The City Review at the tail end of his three-day visit to Juba, Kalonzo who is Kenya’s Special Envoy to South Sudan said that South Sudan is on the right trajectory to lasting peace.

He spoke after meeting after a meeting with President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Riek Machar and Vice President for Gender and Youth Rebecca Garang.

He relayed Kenya’s voice to the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) to lift the arms embargo imposed on South Sudan.

Musyoka, who is one of the frontrunners for the Deputy President position in the forthcoming election in Kenya, threw his support behind the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi who on May 8 urged the African Union (AU) member states to push for the lifting of the arms embargo in South Sudan.

This adds impetus to the position of his host President Salva Kiir who has blamed the arms embargo on the delay in the graduation of unified forces in the various training centres.

“With or without the lifting of the arms embargo, it is imperative that President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar move with speed and graduate the number of men and women that they can graduate. This country needs a unified army that will guarantee stability. A stable army is a stable country,” said Kalonzo.

The UN Security Council is to debate the fate of South Sudan’s embargo on May 31 and decide to stay the sanction or undue it. The outcome will be crucial to the country’s graduation of forces—a key component of the peace agreement which according to President Kiir has dragged due to the sanctions.  

Kalonzo concluded his three-day visit to Juba, South Sudan on Thursday, after holding meetings with key leaders over the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement.

The country has made significant strides towards the process of unifying the country’s army and its unified forces under a single command structure are set to graduate soon, which has been a major hurdle.

The former Vice President who has been a major player in the peace process for years now has been at the forefront in urging the interested parties to move with speed to implement the peace deal.

Stalemate solved

Last month, one of the key players in the peace process SPLM/IO Opposition withdrew from the security mechanisms of the country, plunging Juba into panic and high tension thus the quick deployment of the former Peace Envoy by President Kenyatta to South Sudan for talks with the leadership of the Country.

Further, the Wiper leader was in Juba to deliver President Uhuru Kenyatta’s goodwill message to President Salva Kiir for making the time to mourn with Kenyans following the passing on of the third President Mwai Kibaki and attending the state burial.

Kalonzo told The City Review that while the peace process in South Sudan was ongoing, it would be important for President Uhuru Kenyatta to come to Juba in person, and meet the various leaders before his term in office, which ends soon after the August 9 presidential election.

“He will be leaving office, yet his regime has been critical of the region together. Now IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) in Eastern Africa, which exists to promote regional cooperation and integration to add value to Member States’ efforts in achieving peace, security and prosperity is at its lowest.

We have a crisis in Ethiopia, Khartoum, and South Sudan as well. While President Uhuru Kenyatta is also managing his succession, coming here in person will make a significant step in driving the ongoing peace process,” said Kalonzo.

Kalonzo’s mission was also meant to cool off the tension between Juba and Nairobi, after a political activist Mr Peter Biar Ajak appeared in two media houses in Kenya and made inflammatory remarks against President Salva Kiir saying “he could not speak during Kibaki state burial because he had a terrible hangover”.

This was followed by a protest letter from the South Sudan Presidency spokesperson Ateny Wek questioning why renowned media houses could allow such outrageous allegations to be consumed by the public.

The Standard Group, one of the accused media houses, has since apologized for the overlook as Hon. Kalonzo assured Juba that Nairobi remains a close friend and neighbour and that Kenya regrets that mistake.