Regional leaders Thursday stepped up efforts to broker a peace deal in the violence-striken South Sudan.
President Kenyatta and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn held talks with President Salva Kiir, in the latest bid to stop the political crisis that has led to the deaths, injuries and displacement of many.
President Kenyatta urged the South Sudanese leadership to initiate dialogue that would end the political crisis.
“We in Kenya and the region are concerned about the loss of lives and resultant humanitarian crisis and would like to see the government taking the initiative to end hostilities,” he said.
President Kenyatta, who is the chairman of East African Community, spoke during a three-hour crisis meeting with the council of ministers of South Sudan at State House, Juba.
The President regretted that the crisis, which started as a party dispute, had been portrayed as ethnic cleansing by the media, NGOs and others.
“We should strive to correct that negative impression,” he said.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Ghebreyesus said “good progress” was made in the talks.
He told the AFP news agency that among issues discussed was the possible release of the 11 senior figures allied to former Vice President Riek Machar, who were arrested in the wake of the violence.
“The release of the detainees is part of what we discussed. The release of the detainees could be part of the solution,” he said.
Kenya is Friday expected to host a special Inter Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) summit to discuss the violence.
The new development cams as more than 250 Kenyans were evacuated from Juba. Two planes carrying the evacuees landed at Jomo Kenyatta airport and the victims were received by Foreign Affairs principal secretary Dr Karanja Kibicho and his Devolution counterpart John Konchela.
Dr Kibicho said 1,200 Kenyans were still awaiting evacuation and some were in remote areas.
Yesterday, the ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was collecting information on Kenyans in South Sudan who needed assistance.
The data, according to a statement, would be used to “enhance planning and execution of evacuation plans.”
Those with relatives or friends in the violence-stricken country are required to send an SMS to +254 717865554 with the details of the person in South Sudan requiring assistance. This includes name, their location, number of Kenyans there, the security situation and the nearest access point.-nation.co.ke