Salva Kiir wants William Ruto to mediate in Rome’s stead
South Sudan has approached Kenya to help drive negotiations between the government and armed groups that were initially left out of the 2018 peace deal.
The EastAfrican has gathered that President Salva Kiir late last year wrote to his Kenyan counterpart William Ruto to take over the mediation from Sant’Egidio Community in Rome after the talks collapsed in March 2023.
The talks had sought to embrace hold-out groups into the larger 2018 peace agreement mediated by regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad.
The two parties were expected back to the negotiating table in May 2023, two months after the government withdrew its delegation, but it never happened. In December, President Kiir shifted the talks to Kenya.
South Sudan and Kenyan government officials have been cagey about the issue, which they say is a privileged consultation between Presidents Kiir and Ruto.
Read:Why peace has eluded South Sudan
South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Minister James Morgan said there have been consultations between the two countries but admitted the said letter was written when he was the Permanent Representative of South Sudan to the African Union.
Kenyan Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr Korir Sing’oei declined to divulge details of the letter.
“Kenya is a guarantor of the Revitalised Peace Agreement in South Sudan. It will continue doing what it can to support the government of South Sudan and stakeholders to establish the preconditions for holding a peaceful and credible election later this year,” said Dr Sing’oei.
On January 3, President Ruto received South Sudan special envoys, Gen Akol Koor Kuc and Gen Simon Makuac Yen, with a statement from State House saying that Kenya is committed to enhancing co-operation with Juba on matters of mutual interest.
“Our goal is to expand trade, secure the stability and prosperity of East Africa by working together to combat terrorism, resolve conflicts and build a durable peace across our region,” said a statement posted on the State House social media pages.
Joseph Bangasi Bakosoro, South Sudan’s Minister for Presidential Affairs confirmed in a statement that President Kiir wants President Ruto to take over the mediation of the government and the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA that was under the Sant’Egidio Catholic Community in Rome.