Kiir: Why I cut short my UAE trip

Kiir: Why I cut short my UAE trip
President Salva Kiir signs the condolence book upon his arrival in Nairobi for the funeral of Kenya’s former president Mwai Kibaki. [Photo: PPU]

The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, opened a lid on why he cut short his trip to the United Arab Emirates last week.

Kiir was among heads of state and other dignitaries from across the continent who attended the funeral ceremony of Kenya’s third president, Mwai Kibaki, at the Nyayo Stadium in the capital, Nairobi.

He had left Juba for the United Arab Emirates on April 18 accompanied by several senior government officials on a diplomatic mission, but he had to cut short his stay and jetted back to Juba on Saturday 23 April— just a day after President Mwai Kibaki’s death was announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

While the president did not speak because he had a problem with his vocal cords, he was instead represented by Minister of Cabinet Affairs Dr Elia Lomuro, who gave the speech on his behalf, a speech that further emphasised the diplomatic ties the two countries have enjoyed over the years.

Kiir lauded the departed president for the instrumental role he played in the peace process in Sudan, and later the long and winding journey to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that would be the precursor to the birth of South Sudan in July 2011.

“When President Mwai Kibaki took over from Daniel Moi, he ensured that the peace process that led to the signing of CPA in 2005 secured the right of self-determination of the people of South Sudan. It is through the right of self-determination that today you see the first president of the independent free republic of South Sudan (Salva Kiir) here. We can say with confidence that we owe President Mwai Kibaki special gratitude for giving us the freedom and independence we enjoy today,” read his statement.

He further acknowledged the length that the Kibaki administration went, training South Sudanese of various cadres at the Kenya School of Government while taking some to Mombasa for training, all in a bid to ensure that Africa’s youngest republic was up and running.

Cut short trip

“When the sad news of the death of our beloved leader Mwai Kibaki came, the President was on a foreign trip which he had to cut short and come back in honour of Mwai Kibaki and as we speak the people of South Sudan are mourning and the flag is at half-mast,” read his statement. 

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa likened the leadership of Mwai Kibaki to that of legendary leader Nelson Mandela, adding that Kibaki’s leadership was felt beyond the Kenya borders.

“We remember President Kibaki for the leadership that he has demonstrated not only in Kenya but also to the African continent. We remember his commitment to the people of Kenya, and indeed to all of us as Africans. But we especially remember him for his leadership in uniting the people of Kenya. And for us as South Africans, we saw him in a mould in which we saw our very own President Nelson Mandela, who sought to unite the nation, and who sowed the seeds of development in South Africa, and you too have had a great president in President Kibaki. He was a true statesman and we drew a lot of lessons from how he governed the country,” said Ramaphosa.

President Sahle-Work Zewde of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia described Kibaki as a true friend of Ethiopia, as demonstrated in the mutually benefiting projects like the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor and Moyale One-Stop Border Post that were initiated during his tenure as Kenya’s third president, as well as his contributions towards peace in the region.

“Kenya and Igad have been key in the Somali crisis and also in the Sudan peace talks seeking to end two decades of warfare. We will continue to sustain the remarkable ties that Kenya and Ethiopia have enjoyed over the years,” said President Sahle-Work Zewde.

Kibaki, who served two terms as president from 2002 to 2013 will be laid to rest today Saturday, April 30 at his Kanyange Village home in Othaya, Nyeri County.