By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea has agreed to return permanent peace to restive South Sudan, to accelerate initiatives that could strengthen socio – economic and political integration in three countries.
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed and his counterpart Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki visit South Sudan on Monday. The two leaders departed from Asmara International Airport on Monday morning and have arrived in Juba to bolster existing ties between their countries. Abiy had visited Asmara on Sunday along with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.
South Sudan president Salva Kiir who was on a tour of one of the country’s northwestern Bahr el Ghazal state cut short his trip to meet with the visiting leaders.
During their stay in Juba, PM Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki, held close – door discussions with President Salva Kiir, lasted an hour and half time, focused on South Sudan peace deal, regional peace, economic ties and infrastructure development. Other government officials from both sides are not allowed.
In the joint communique released following meeting between the three leaders, read out by South Sudan Foreign Minister Nhial Deng Nhial, at Juba International Airport says “The three leaders emphasized the need to continue working together to consolidate peace in the Republic of South Sudan in all ways possible and to seek to coordinate the positions of three countries on both regional and global issues.”
The communique also added that, “In the course, of the discussions, the three leaders focused on the need to advance the cause of regional integration and to that end agreed to task their foreign ministers and other relevant government agencies in three countries to work out the common projects that will facilitate the attainment of the goal of regional economic integration and shared prosperity.”
Nhial also said the three leaders accentuated the need to work together and bringing a lasting peace in South Sudan by bringing non – signatories to the board.
“The two visiting leaders committed themselves to support peace and ensure that the holdout opposition groups join the peace process,” said Nhial. “All the groups are not being part of the peace process and this is be followed up, and you may be aware that on the eighth of this month, is going to be another session of talks between Ismail Wais, special envoy and the NAS…that will be follow up by similar exercise in Nairobi with the groups that is led by Paul Malong…..both the governments of South Sudan and the regions are fully committed to the objectives of making sure that the peace process in South Sudan is an inclusive as possible and as durable.”
Nhial further said president Kiir’s administration is fully committed to the revitalized peace deal and working hard to mobilizes funds for peace implementation.
“Is committed and I think, you are aware that the budget is being worked out and that will be place in deposited of mechanisms that are tasked with the implementing of the peace agreement …… not a least all, of course, the pre-transitional committee, and the funds are going to be release by the government to that aims and the government is also continue to solicit funds other sources for the same purpose,” Nhial said.
Minister Nhial also added the leaders discussed matters of regional integration, saying there are initiatives of integration and development projects that can connect South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Ethiopia has customarily played a key role in seeking to return South Sudan to peace and stability after a political war ravaged East Africa’s youngest nation.
Addis Ababa has been hosted the peace deal between president Kiir’s administration and rebel factions under the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD for five – years old, until last year, South Sudanese warring parties signed the revitalized peace deal, aimed to end protracted civil war, which nearly 400,000 people are reported killed and 4.5 million of people displaced from their homes. Ethiopia also hosts a substantial number of refugees fleeing instability in South Sudan.
Also, Asmara has promised to support South Sudan in its nation building effort. Kiir visited Eritrea last year on invitation of President Afwerki, discussions were reported centered on sharing economic and infrastructure development.
South Sudan is also hosts tenths thousands of refugees from Ethiopia. While hundreds of Ethiopians and Eritreans are doing businesses across South Sudan’s major towns.
Prime Minister Abiy and president Afwerki departed back to their countries respectively.