PEACE PROCESS

Decision by South Sudan leaders to hold hands was long overdue

Kenya, being one of the largest foreign investors in that country, stands to benefit tremendously with the return of the peace

In Summary

• Political intolerance and negative ethnicity have no place in the developing young nation.

•  African socio-political challenges can only be settled by Africans themselves applying African solutions.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit (L) and Riek Machar, former vice president and rebel leader, shake hands after their meeting in which they have reached a deal to form a long-delayed unity government in Juba, South Sudan December 17, 2019.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit (L) and Riek Machar, former vice president and rebel leader, shake hands after their meeting in which they have reached a deal to form a long-delayed unity government in Juba, South Sudan December 17, 2019.
Image: REUTERS

I join Africans and the global community in saluting the South Sudanese for prioritising their national interests and putting behind them historic socio-economic cultural differences that threatened their country. 

Political intolerance and negative ethnicity have no place in the developing young nation. African socio-political challenges can only be settled by Africans themselves applying African solutions.

The decision by South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and the country's opposition leader Riek Machar to hold hands for peace and unity was long overdue.

 

The people of South Sudan, who gained their self-rule in 2011, have suffered a lot of socio-economic and political hardships since 2013 after Kiir sacked Machar and later accused him of attempting a coup against him.

This sparked a bloody war characterised by ethnic conflict. Its time for them to dwell more on what unites them as opposed TO what divides them.

 No doubt both leaders should now sit and reverses the country's tarnished image globally. Many regional and global agencies have in recent past ranked the country  — based on happiness and global peace — almost always at the bottom (if not near the bottom) of the list.

In 2019, the United Nations World Happiness Report ranked it as the lowest state. That same year, it was listed second last in the Global Peace Index list. It's time to forge ahead and rebuild the country. It's very sad to learn that after six years of war some 380,000 people have died, four million displaced and more than half the population is facing severe hunger. On the same vein the economy of the oil-rich nation has been shattered, infrastructure barely non-existent, and millions of children are out of school.

The latest rapprochement between these two leaders should be strengthened by all means and be seen as a cornerstone of the September 2018 peace deal.

It's time to prove critics and experts wrong who are on record warning against rushing into a new unity government before all the outstanding issues are resolved, saying it could lead to disaster once again. 

To Kenyans, it's great news. Kenya, being one of the largest foreign investors in that country, stands to benefit tremendously with the return of the peace and stability in sectors such as construction, insurance hospitality, transport and banking will see their businesses recover.

 

The latest statistics from the Kenya Bureau of Statistics show Kenya’s exports to South Sudan account for 11.2 per cent of the total exports to the Common Market for East and Southern African.

The formation of the unity government is also expected to boost socio-economic development in Kenya as well as address the  South Sudanese refugees' crisis.

Kenya hosts at least  120,452 refugees as at end of October 2019, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Transitional Government of National Unity will see the return of peace in South Sudan and this is likely to enhance regional stability.

ONWONGA YABESH

Kisii