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Kenyatta Calls for International Support for South Sudan Peace

  • VOA News

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the 2015 Sustainable Development Summit, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at United Nations headquarters.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the 2015 Sustainable Development Summit, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at United Nations headquarters.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says East African nations that have worked to bring a new peace agreement for South Sudan should expand their efforts to include the international community in implementing the pact to end 20 months of fighting.

In an interview with VOA's Africa 54 in New York, Kenyatta said that path will allow the opening of humanitarian corridors in South Sudan, where the conflict has forced 2 million people from their homes. It will also help in establishing an agreed upon unity government between the current administration and rebels.

"I think the key focus now is actually on implementation, and given the fact that all parties have signed, I believe there is a keen commitment on the part of all South Sudanese parties to see a genuine peace achieved," Kenyatta said. "And what they need from us is really the backing to see the process of implementation through."

Kenyatta expressed the need to include not only the government and rebels in the process, but also to bring in civil society organization, churches and the communities of South Sudan.

The peace deal agreed to last month calls for demilitarizing the country's capital, Juba, forming a transitional unity government within 90 days and giving rebels the position of vice president. Since the signing, both sides have violated a cease-fire agreement.

Implementing the peace deal will be the focus of a meeting Tuesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The talks will include U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, African Union chair Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the regional body IGAD that helped mediate the agreement. South Sudan President Salva Kiir is sending Vice President James Wani Igga to represent the government; it is not clear if rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar will participate.

In addition to the situation in South Sudan, Kenyatta told Africa 54 that his government is "greatly increasing" investment in security after what he said was years of not spending enough resources in that sector. He said the issue is not one that is unique to Kenya and that his government is promoting programs such as equitable development in order to "deny some of these extremists the opportunity to become a pull for these terrorists."

"At the end of the day we all must recognize that this threat of terrorism is not a threat to Kenya, it's a threat to the world, and we must continue to work together to ensure that we are able to defeat it," he said.

Kenyatta also discussed the scheduled November visit of Pope Francis, calling it a "significant moment for Kenya."

"We are very excited, beside the fact that I'm a Catholic, but I think he is reaching out to all religions and reaching out to all people, and he has a very humane message that he is sending which I think is very appropriate not just for Kenya, but for the world today," Kenyatta said.

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