Kiir needs total cooperation from feuding EAC leaders

Kiir needs total cooperation from feuding EAC leaders

President Salva Kiir made his second official trip to the East African Community yesterday, landing in Bujumbura, Burundi, on Friday.

Kiir had left Juba on Thursday to quell the boiling regional tension among some member states. There is a long-running tension between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the latter is accusing the former of backing the March 23 rebels occupying the eastern part of its territory. Although President Paul Kagame has absolved his administration of the blame, Kinshasa has made several allegations linking the militia group to its neighbour.

Lately, Burundi has also made similar allegations against Rwanda, going to the extent of shutting its borders with Rwanda. All these diplomatic fissures have held the EAC bloc at ransom, begging for the attention of the chairperson of the EAC bloc, who is currently President Salva Kiir of South Sudan.

On Friday, Kiir met his Burundian counterpart, President Evariste Ndayishimiye, after which the two leaders issued a joint communiqué to address the regional tension.

Part of this communiqué stated: “Their excellencies reaffirmed their commitment to the EAC-led Nairobi process and underscored the need for expeditious complementary implementation with the Luanda process to avert the deterioration of security in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which risks spillover into neighbouring partner states.”.

This resolution pointed to the outcome of the discussion that the EAC member states had in Nairobi, Kenya, under the guidance of the former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta. Dubbed the Nairobi Process, the meeting resolved that there was a need for the deployment of the regional force into DRC—something which the member states did but had to withdraw after the host country failed to renew the mandate of the force.

The other is the Luanda Process, which reinforced the outcomes of the Nairobi one and called for the withdrawal of other armed groups.

While President Kiir seems to have cracked the right code that can be the antidote for dealing with the tension and mistrust, there has been a lack of cooperation from some of these member states.

For these countries to address these diplomatic problems, they must compromise and the leaders must appreciate the fact that they are acting on behalf of the people and not to pursue their interests. This would make it easier for President Kiir to deliver on his duty.