President Uhuru Kenyatta says South Sudan’s is a political party dispute, not ethnic

Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Dessalegn, South Sudan’s President Salva Kirr and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta in Juba. [PHOTO: PSCU]

JUBA: President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the South Sudanese leadership to initiate dialogue that will end the political crisis in the country.

President Kenyatta said the Government of South Sudan has a sovereign responsibility to use all means within its constitutional mandate to resolve the ongoing hostilities.

“We in Kenya and the region are concerned with the loss of lives and resultant humanitarian crisis and would like to see the Government taking the initiative to end hostilities,” the President said.

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President Kenyatta, who is the chairman of East African Community, spoke during a three hour crisis meeting with the council of ministers of South Sudan to broker the end of hostilities at State House, Juba.

The President regretted that the crisis, which started as a party dispute, has been portrayed as ethnic cleansing by the media, NGOs and others.

“The media, NGOs and other organisations have created a perception that the political dispute in South Sudan was ethnic fighting. We should strive to correct that negative impression,” he added.

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He assured President Salva Kirr who chaired the talks, that Kenya as a neighbour and the region would stand with his Government in its efforts to normalize the situation.

The President said, “South Sudan is a young nation that should be spared unnecessary distractions in its development agenda. Take wisdom and stop the loss of innocent lives”.

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He also said talks with the country’s sacked Vice President Riek Machar would ensure humanitarian aid reached the suffering citizens all parts of the country.

“Media images of suffering South Sudanese children, women and other innocent people seeking refuge in UN compounds are disturbing,” the President added.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn echoed President Kenyatta’s sentiments saying the ongoing crisis should be handled carefully at the national and regional levels before intervention by the international community.

The Premier, who is chairman of African Union (AU), said his country fully supported initiatives by the South Sudan leadership to provide a local solution to the political crisis in their country.

“Already 600 South Sudanese have crossed over to Ethiopia to seek refuge. IGAD will use all means to stop the incitement and propaganda by the rebel group to portray the political problem as ethnic cleansing,” Mr. Dessalegn said.

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President Kenyatta and the Ethiopian Premier later visited some of the political detainees captured during the ongoing crisis.

Foreign Affairs ministers from Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan Ambassador Amina Mohamed, Dr. Tedros Adhanou and Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin later held a joint media briefing and said the outcome of the meeting will be discussed during a scheduled IGAD meeting in Nairobi tomorrow.

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