Kenya President Hopes to Revive South Sudan Peace Talks
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Friday that regional leaders would bring "new impetus" to moribund efforts aimed at ending 17 months of civil war in South Sudan.
Talks hosted by regional bloc IGAD have only achieved broken promises and failed ceasefires as the warring parties continue to seek battlefield victories, while parallel talks in Arusha have done little more than confuse the issues.
Kenyatta said the IGAD and Arusha talks would be merged and that a group of former political detainees, arrested by government forces as the civil war began in December 2013 and released to Kenya weeks later, would play a bigger role in reconciling President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.
"Today, the two processes have come together and the former detainees who have been in Nairobi are ready to go back home to bring peace back to their country by reconciling the warring leaders," Kenyatta said.
"We want the people of South Sudan to enjoy the prosperity that independence should have brought them," he said of the country that achieved self-rule less than four years ago.
Speaking for the group of 11 former detainees -- all of whom held influential positions in South Sudan's ruling SPLM party -- Pagan Amum, a former SPLM secretary general, said they would strive to bring an end to the civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people, forced two million from their homes and put 4.6 million in need of food aid.
"Your efforts have not failed. We will restore your dignity and the dignity of South Sudan," Amum said.