The Kenyan government on Monday expressed concern about developments in South Sudan, where a group of soldiers said to be allied with former Vice President Riek Machar launched an attack late Sunday on army headquarters.
Kenyan government spokesman Manoah Esipisu called for calm saying as a neighboring country, Kenya is hopeful that normalcy would soon be restored in South Sudan following the political tension due to the coup attempt.
“We are very happy to see that everything is under control. We look forward to full normalcy returning to South Sudan,” said Esipisu. “As South Sudan’s neighbors, we stand shoulder to shoulder with President Salva Kiir and his team there. We have to emphasize that we are happy to see that the situation is under control,” he said.
Esipisu’s comments came after President Kiir declared a curfew in the capital, Juba and accused soldiers allied with dismissed former vice president Riek Marchar of attempting to overthrow his administration.
Esipisu called for calm as Kiir declared a curfew until further notice.
“Remain calm, Kenya is your friend [and] you can rely on us,” said Esipisu.
Esipisu said the administration in Nairobi is prepared to offer any assistance to the people of South Sudan.
“Kenya stands ready to offer whatever advice or whatever consultation that the government of South Sudan might be available for. We are keen to ensure that the situation doesn’t become a big issue,” said Esipisu.
Some observers say if violence worsens in South Sudan some South Sudanese could flee across the border into Kenya. Esipisu says however right now the situation in South Sudan is not cause for alarm.
“At the moment we cannot dwell on speculation because we can say with a level of certainty that the situation is under control. And will do whatever is possible to help the government return normalcy there should the government think that we should be involved in anyway,” said Esipisu.
The administration in Nairobi and Africa’s newest country enjoys strong diplomatic and bilateral relations, according to Esipisu.
“President Kenyatta consults very regularly with President Salva Kiir as well as Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame so obviously, they are always closely in touch in relation to security issues in the region, as well as in relation to infrastructural issues in the region,” said Esipisu.
South Sudan has yet to officially become a member of the regional bloc, EAC. Some analysts wonder if the attempted government overthrow could derail South Sudan’s application to become an official member of the regional grouping.
“That concern is speculative at the moment and we don’t comment on speculation,” said Esipisu.
Clottey interview with Manoah Esipisu, Kenya government spokesman