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Kibaki funeral: President Kiir voice challenge sees minister read his speech

South Sudan President Salva Kiir arrives at the Nyayo National Stadium on April 29, 2022 for the State Funeral service of Mwai Kibaki. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

President Salva Kiir eulogised Mwai Kibaki as a capable leader who played an important role in the establishment of South Sudan as an independent nation.

The South Sudan leader was among the three foreign Heads of State who attended Mwai Kibaki’s State Funeral service at the Nyayo National Stadium on Friday, April 29. The others are Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia.

Kiir could not read his speech due to voice challenge, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

As a result, South Sudan’s Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Martin Elia Lomuro, was invited by the host president to relay Kiir’s message.

Kiir, in his message read out by Lomuro, said Kibaki was instrumental in ensuring South Sudan gained self-rule on July 9, 2011.

“When Mwai Kibaki took over from Daniel Arap Moi [in 2002], he ensured that peace process in the former Sudan led to the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement in 2005. That secured the right of self-determination of the people of South Sudan,” President Kiir said.

On January 9, 2005, the then-United Nations Security Council President Joel Adechi of Benin described the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) as “a historic moment of great opportunity for the country”.

“We can say that we owe President Mwai Kibaki special gratitude for giving us the freedom and independence that we enjoy today,” Kiir said on April 29, 2022.

Kiir further said that Kibaki allowed South Sudan’s Government officials, who were new to self-rule in 2011, to train at the Kenya School of Government.

“He took some of our government officials to Mombasa for training. So, Kibaki is a dear man to our hearts,” he said.

The president said the South Sudan national flag has been flying at half-mast in honour of the former President of Kenya.

South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa likened Mwai Kibaki to his country’s liberation icon Nelson Mandela.

The visiting president said South Africa was “saddened to hear of Mwai Kibaki’s death”.

“The news [of Kibaki’s death] touched the hearts of South African people,” said Ramaphosa, stating that Kenya’s third President will be remembered for “uniting the people of Kenya”.

On her part, Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde described the late Head of State as “a true friend of Ethiopia”.

Zewde said under Kibaki’s leadership Kenya and Ethiopia strengthened their bilateral ties.

“Kibaki was committed to multilateralism,” she said.

Former Malawi President Joyce Banda also attended the function.

Three vice-presidents also attended the event. They are Philip Mpango of Tanzania, Jessica Alupo of Uganda and Constantino Chiwenga of Zimbabwe.

Rwanda’s Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente was also in attendance.

Others were the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Patricia Scotland, Sri Lanka’s Special Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake, South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor and South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mayiik Ayii Deng.