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Uhuru takes up regional peacemaker role, makes strides in ending conflicts

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta when he arrived in Goma DR Congo where EAC regional force has been deployed to disarm the M23 rebel group. [Courtesy, Twitter]

On Monday last week, former President Uhuru Kenyatta was on radio appealing for peace and tolerance.

He was speaking Kiswahili, but he was not addressing Kenyans as he used to.

Uhuru was in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he is leading efforts to end the fighting between rebels and government forces in the country's eastern part.

"It is the responsibility of every Congolese to know that he should not look at his neighbour's tribe," he said in Kiswahili.

"Look carefully at your own loyalty to your country, and your patriotism. And know that, if you want good, you must unite and collaborate and work together."

A day later, Uhuru was in Goma, DRC interacting with internally displaced people, listening to heart-rending narrations of the horrors they had witnessed.

A fortnight earlier, he was in a conference room in Pretoria, South Africa, clapping and posing for photographs as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) finally signed a treaty to end the fighting.

This is the post-presidency Uhuru Kenyatta — the conciliator.

Uhuru is the EAC-Facilitator of the EAC-led Nairobi Process on Restoration of Peace and Security in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and AU-Kenya Peace Envoy

Since he left the presidency, Uhuru has trotted across the continent as the peacemaker – the role he gladly took up.

In the past two weeks, Uhuru has made headway in two of his post-presidency assignments: managing to have warring parties in the conflict in Ethiopia sign an agreement and convincing President Kagame to urge the M23 rebels to cease fire and withdraw from captured territories.

Bringing peace to the restive eastern DRC was Uhuru’s project and one that took up some of his time while he was in office.

This week, he has been in consultative meetings in Kinshasa and Goma where he also visited internally displaced persons.

While Uhuru was with the IDPs, he was his classic self. Chatting up with them and listening to their plight from the conflict.

In radio interviews in DRC, he urged the people to look past their ethnicities, end hostilities and live together in peace. In mediating the Ethiopia-Tigray conflict, he was helped by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Across the continent

Kenya has played a critical role in the search for a solution to the conflict in Ethiopia and the relentlessness of Uhuru paid off in South Africa when representatives of the parties in the conflict agreed to end hostilities.

Further agreements were reached in Nairobi last week where Uhuru was similarly at hand. On Saturday last week, he spent the day in Karen as the two parties worked out the modalities for disarmament.

The former president had been in South Africa for over a week for the negotiations between the two sides which have been at war since November 2020.

He is a member of the Panel of High level for the Ethiopian Peace Process.

He said in Pretoria that the lasting solution to the conflict could only come through political engagement and the parties' ability to accommodate each other's differences. 

"It's my hope that all parties will go back and begin the process of dialogue. The lasting solution can only be dialogue. We still have a lot of work to do in terms of beginning the political process but the most important thing is the unwritten and the unwritten is the building of trust and confidence between all parties concerned and the recognition that the solution to the problems of Ethiopia lie in the hands of the people of Ethiopia." he said.

"We are here to assist them in that process and all we can ask and call for is any destructive force from whatever part that seeks to destabilise this process, either from within or from without, should take note that the people of Ethiopia now desire peace and desire to resolve their internal issues through peaceful means.” 

Source of pride 

In his capacity as the EAC-Facilitator, Uhuru said in a statement released on Friday that he had telephone calls with presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Everiste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, Felix Tshisekedi of DRC and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In his call to Kagame, he briefed him about his trip to Goma and to the camps for the internally displaced.

“They both agreed on the need to implement and adopt the recommendations of the EAC Chiefs of Defense, and in particular the need for the regional force to immediately take over and secure recently captured areas by the M23 in the North Kivu Region and ensure peace, stability and safety for civilians is restored in the area,” the statement said.

Further, Uhuru and Kagame agreed on the need for an immediate ceasefire and Kagame agreed to assist Uhuru urge the M23 to cease hostilities and withdraw from captured territories.

Uhuru also appealed to the United Nations to enhance humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons in Ituri, South Kivu and North Kivu Provinces of DRC.

Ndayishimiye and Tshisekedi encouraged Uhuru to request the UN to assist in the vetting and repatriation of DRC refugees in Rwanda and Uganda.

Uhuru's has become a source of pride for Kenyans on social media, some of whom believe he could do well as the leader of the African Union should he be interested and launch a bid.