President Uhuru appeals for regional unity to strengthen conflict prevention

President Uhuru Kenyatta [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured the international community of Kenya’s commitment to finding long-term solutions to the region’s peace and stability.

 Kenyatta, spoke when he presided over the opening of the 39th IGAD Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi on Tuesday, July 5.

The meeting, called by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)'s Assembly of Heads of State and Government, aims to focus on regional peace and security, with a particular emphasis on various forms of instability such as conflict, terrorism, and violent extremism, and the proliferation of illicit arms and illegal weapons.

A previous summit was held in Djibouti in December 2020.

Kenyatta urged partner states to work together with the regional and international community to strengthen conflict prevention and promote long-term peace and development.

“As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to work together and to do so boldly and creatively to navigate the multiple crises that we face, see opportunities as they emerge, and define the path of peace and sustainable economic development,” he said.

Kenyatta called for coordinated efforts to address the region's raging drought, noting that it has contributed to increased food insecurity and dried up water resources, raising tensions that could lead to new conflicts.

 “In the past two years, the region has experienced a desert locust invasion, a crushing drought that is still ongoing, numerous threats related to violent extremism and arms conflicts. The region has also not been spared on the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing crisis in Europe. Besides the challenges, we are determined to forge ahead,” the Head of State added.

Kenyatta stated that Kenya would use its international influence as a Non-Permanent member of the United Nations Security Council  (UNSC) to advance African solutions to African problems. 

IGAD Executive Secretary Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu noted that although the region has faced various challenges in convening, it has continued to talk to each other as they seize opportunities that benefit all members.

“I am encouraged that nevertheless we have continued to talk to each other as one family that is inseparably connected and we have continued acting in the best interest of our people,” he said.

The summit follows a recent border escalation between Sudan and Ethiopia.

Gebeyehu has recently urged the two countries to exercise extreme caution and avoid actions that could exacerbate tensions, as well as to actively seek diplomatic solutions to the problem.