Home | News    Monday 21 February 2011

Relations between South Sudan and Kenya, vital - Kiir

February 20, 2011 (ABYEI) - Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of soon-to-be independent South Sudan has said that there is huge potential for joint ventures between the oil-producing region and the neighboring Kenya considering the country’s experience in trade and investment.

The South Sudan president hopes the two governments will explore more avenues to boost interaction both at the political and economic levels for their mutual benefit, as the region approaches independence in July.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune from the regional capital Juba on Sunday, a presidential aide, who did not want to be named, said the president Kiir made the remark while talking to the Kenyan Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka on Friday.

While receiving congratulatory message of the Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki delivered by his Vice President Musyoka, the aide quoted president Kiir as saying: "We would not be where we are today, without the support of Kenya. I welcomed you and your accompanying delegation to Juba. So feel at home and I am happy you have come to witness the results of a long and difficult journey that took 13 years to negotiate".

Kenya hosted peace talks between North and South Sudan, which ended over two-decades of civil war. Many leaders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) were based in Kenya during the conflict.

"You know how this process began in 1993 culminating in the signing of the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) in Nairobi in 2005. Essentially, this is your baby and we are glad that you played your role together with other Kenyans and people from different parts of the world to see to it that we succeed," said president Kiir.

Kiir briefed the Kenyan delegation on the various challenges facing the nascent region, which include developing a strong human resource base, infrastructural development and the intention of his administration to continue to strengthen relations through bilateral mechanisms, in line with the framework of co-operation.

Many of the four million South Sudanese displaced during the civil war fled to Kenya, as well as other neighbouring countries and the North of Sudan.

He said the decision made by the Kenyan government to send such a high level delegation led by Vice President to the region will improve business links. "This affirms the bilateral ties that existed between the Kenyan government and people. These ties needs to be continued and extended into development of a strong Partnership based on mutual respect and shared values," he said.

Kiir said South Sudan has great potential for foreign investment, which is why his government is reviewing the interim constitution to make region more investor-friendly.

"My government seeks close co-operation with relevant authorities in your country to enhance co-operation and potential investment," said Kiir, adding that Kenya is widely accepted as a bridge between the Eastern African community and the rest of the world.

“It is my belief, however, that this bridge of friendship extends far beyond these two regions as has been demonstrated by your engagement in peaceful settlement of the conflict in Sudan, and more especially in the opening of Consulate and establishments of cooperatives in South Sudan immediately after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in several African" countries.

On his part, the Kenyan Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka who was speaking in the office of South Sudan President, in the presence of a high-level government delegation to formally endorse the referendum results and welcome the new state in a meeting, said his country wants the leaders of North and South Sudan to work closely to consolidate peace, sort out resource sharing and agree on border issues in the post-referendum period.

He also pledged an additional 400 million Kenyan Shillings (nearly $5 million) towards capacity building in South Sudan.

The package entails the seconding of 80 top-notch public servants to the new state for a period of three years. He paid a glowing tribute to the people of South Sudan for conducting a peaceful referendum.

"The grand coalition government in Kenya is happy with the way you conducted the exercise. It is a testimony that Africans can peacefully and successfully manage delicate transitions," said Musyoka in a televised statement on South Sudan Television on Friday shortly after meeting South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Musyoka further commended Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir for supporting the referendum and finally endorsing the new state. ”What is remaining now is for both the leadership of the South and that of the North to work together in a peaceful atmosphere towards propelling the now two neighboring states forward,” he said.

He expressed optimism that the East African Community would be keen to welcome the new state. Kenya’s public service minister Dalmas Otieno said his country was determined to assist the people of South Sudan quickly get their civil service “up and running”.

On bilateral trade, Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere said Kenya was focusing on three key areas — boosting of cross-border trade, enhancing manufacturing capability and the implementation of infrastructural networks linking Kenya and South Sudan.