President Kenyatta travels to Ethiopia for South Sudan peace talks

President Uhuru Kenyatta departs for Addis Ababa on Thursday. Courtesy: PSCU

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has travelled to Ethiopia to join in the talks between South Sudan rival factions, aimed at ending the civil war in the world’s youngest nation.

Kenyatta will join other regional leaders in Addis Ababa in a meeting with President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, as they seek to revive a peace deal for South Sudan.

Machar – who has been in South Africa since August 2016 – arrived in Addis Ababa on Wednesday. President Kiir also jetted in soon after.

A feud between the two leaders sparked the deadly conflict in South Sudan, as in December 2013 President Kiir accused Machar, who was his deputy then, of plotting to overthrow his government. The latter denied the allegations but then went on to mobilize a rebel force to fight Kiir’s rule.

The resulting war has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions others, propelling South Sudan to being Africa’s biggest refugee crisis.

A peace deal signed in 2015 laid a foundation for a unity government and presidential elections, but both factions violated the terms time and again.

The meeting in Addis Ababa will, among other things, seek to revive this deal, with an aim to ensure lasting peace in the country.