Kenya: S. Sudan violence threat to regional peace, warns Kenya
Written By Lucas Barasa
Rwandan troops leave the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) town of Kindu in 2002. Rwanda formally denied having deployed in the DRC and said it was not an enemy of the neighbouring country. [AFP]
January 17, 2014[Nairobi] — Kenya fears that the war in South Sudan could escalate into a major international conflict.
A confidential dossier prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses concern that Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda could all get entangled in the conflict.
The report notes that the ongoing peace talks in Addis Ababa under the auspices of Igad were not seen as neutral because Ugandan troops had entered South Sudan to support President Salva Kiir against his arch-rival, former Vice-President Riek Machar.
There were also concerns that Rwanda was preparing to send troops to join the Ugandans in fighting alongside South Sudan army. (READ: Uganda fights in South Sudan as rebellion rages)
The report details the factors hampering the peace talks following the visit of a mediation team to Dr Machar’s base in Jonglei State.
Dr Machar rejected proposals for a ceasefire because he did not see Igad as neutral following Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s military intervention.
He told the delegation that his forces had killed 50 Ugandan soldiers in a January 10 battle for the bridge linking Juba and Bor towns.
Speaking elsewhere Thursday, President Museveni admitted that Ugandan troops have been killed in action in South Sudan. (READ: Ugandan troops killed in South Sudan)
Dr Machar accused President Kiir of starting the conflict, saying, the fighting started after 35 of his bodyguards were disarmed and killed. He also told the delegation that President Kiir had recruited 4,000 soldiers without the knowledge of the military.
The brief warns that the South Sudan conflict is getting “internationalised” and likely to draw more countries intervening in support of either of the parties.
It looks at concerns expressed by Sudan over the Ugandan involvement, particularly President Omar Al-Bashir’s fears that President Museveni is intent on forcing a regime change in his country.
“Sudan is likely to support Dr Machar to counter Uganda’s military manoeuvres and those of the Darfur rebels,” the report said.
But Dr Machar, in turn, was unhappy with President Bashir’s visit to Juba and the agreement to establish a joint military protection for the oil field, which he took as another indication of Igad’s bias.
The document reports that African Union Commission chairperson Dlamini Zuma was to visit Juba on Wednesday to appeal to President Kiir to release 11 detained leaders of Dr Machar’s movement “to avoid embarrassment before the African Union Summit scheduled to start soon.”