The United Nations Security Council, on a visit to the Kenyan capital, has urged President Uhuru Kenyatta and other regional leaders to intervene in South Sudan, where they felt warring political leaders had no commitment to a peaceful resolution to their conflict.
In candid talks at the Presidency, unusual for UN diplomats, the Security Council ambassadors said they had found South Sudan President Salva Kiir Maryadit and his former vice president Dr Riek Machar unwilling to implement the peace agreement both have signed to, and unyielding overall.
“We found rigidity in the approach by both parties in their dealing with the conflict. No way was prepared to make progress,” said Ms Lyall Grant, the United Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, and leader of the 15-member Security Council, which held talks with President Kenyatta on Wednesday night after visiting the South Sudan capital Juba and the Somali capital Mogadishu.
“It was deeply sad. Both Riak Machar and President Salva Kiir appeared to have lost consciousness around the big issues of the day,” added Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations.
Uhuru told the ambassadors of the region’s efforts in bringing peace to South Sudan. He told them the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the region’s focal point on South Sudan, wanted to see the international community, including the Security Council and powerful bilateral partners, speaking IGAD’s tough language in getting the leaders to move to securing peace for their people.
“At times, the leaders have tended to think they are receiving mixed signals, that what the region is saying and what the international community is saying do not always match. This is an important opportunity for the Security Council and IGAD to speak in one voice,” President Kenyatta said.
“This is the time for all of us to focus on what is important. We must end the fighting, we must open humanitarian corridors, we must act to see that our neighbour, Africa’s newest nation, is rescued from its current challenges,” President Kenyatta said.
In May, President Kiir Maryadit and Dr Machar agreed to end the fighting and establish an all-inclusive transitional government within 60 days, and that deadline has now elapsed. America’s Samantha Power said neither leader showed any appetite for the drive to achieve that goal.
“This was a truly troubling trip,” said Eugene Richard Gasana, Rwanda’s ambassador to the UN. “As an African, this was a deeply saddening mission. I urge you, President Kenyatta, and your colleagues in the region to act to save this country.”
Uhuru is due to join host Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and other regional leaders at an IGAD summit in Addis Ababa at the weekend to discuss how to effectively intervene to force progress in the South Sudan crisis.