Diplomacy is murky business, especially when you are dealing with a neighbour like South Sudan.
The National Assembly Defence and Security committees has threatened to ban Riek Machar and his allies from stepping foot into Kenya, as well as deport his family said to be living lavishly in Nairobi.
Chairmen Asman Kamama and Ndungu Githinji will also be presenting a bill in parliament that will seek South Sudan expelled from the East African Community.
“Machar and his allies cannot be allowed to enjoy the comfort and relative calm of capitals with their children going to school as they sponsor wanton and gutter destruction of lives and property in Juba,” Githinji said.
They say this will prevent the young nation from sliding back into a full blown war.
The two committees condemned recent statements by Machar calling for the country to return to war against Salva Kiir.
”We find the fresh calls for war unacceptable and inexcusable. We want Machar and his allies to go back to the negotiating table as an option to pursue and address his grievances,” Kamama told a press conference at Parliament buildings.
“Taking the people of South Sudan back to the trenches must not be an option.”
The two legislators said that war in South Sudan is an economic liability for Kenya, adding that several Kenyan banks have had their branches burned down.
“The war threatens the continent’s largest Lappset project. Machar and his allies cannot live in comfort in Nairobi and have his children go to better schools while people continue to die in South Sudan,” said Kamama.
While it would seem to be the right thing to do, interfering with South Sudan politics may come back to bite Kenya badly, at a time when our dominance and influence in the region is under threat from Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Say for instance we deport Machar’s family, then two years later he is in power. Our relations with his country would be very slippery, at a time when we’re still uncertain whether South Sudan will go with our pipeline or link up with the Tanzanian one in Uganda, plus other mega projects.
Certain decisions like deporting its influential citizens may be disastrous for us economically.
On the other hand, Salva Kiir’s administration may demand that we take action on Machar’s allies in a to cement his hold on power. That however does not mean they cannot set up a new base elsewhere, in Khartoum for example.
So if the Kenyan government acts, Salva Kiir is our friend and Machar is our enemy. If it fails to act, Machar is our friend, and Salva Kiir may or may not be our enemy.
That’s a diplomatic position you wouldn’t want to find yourself in, especially with a country like South Sudan where its political future is very uncertain.
What do you think?