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SOUTH SUDAN: Malong meeting with Kenya elders to enlist support to ouster Kiir

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South Sudanese Paul Malong. He has met with Kikuyu elders. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Ex-S. Sudan army chief’s elders meeting raises eyebrows

NAIROBI (DAILY NATION) – Former South Sudanese military chief Gen Paul Malong is on a charm offensive enlisting Kikuyu elders to lobby the Kenyan government to back his efforts to dislodge embattled President Salva Kiir.

Hours after the recent launch of South Sudan United Front (SS-UF), his new political group, in Nairobi, Gen Malong pulled a surprise move by heading to Thika Road offices of the Kikuyu Council of Elders for a two-hour meeting.

He was also scheduled to meet the Kalenjin Council of Elders at a later date.

Although the elders’ outfit runs no official errands for government, the audacity to host a former army chief who has publicly declared intentions to take over leadership in a neighbouring country could be viewed by some as an oblique message that Gen Malong’s actions and movements are not without support from top Kenyan state officials.

Gen Malong’s 10-man delegation included former legal adviser to President Salva Kiir and his former ambassador to Moscow Telar Ring Deng.

Gen Malong was sacked by President Salva Kiir in May 2017, and Mr Kiir’s government has been viewing him with suspicion since then.

The announcement that he had formed an opposition group to push for change has only heightened the mistrust.

During the recent meeting, the elders’ lobby chairman Wachira Kiago gave Gen Malong a copy of a Social- Economic and Cultural Memorandum of Understanding, signed between them and Gen Malong’s Dinka Council of Elders known as Jieng in 2016 in Nairobi.

The MoU contains resolutions and intentions to extend mutual assistance to their communities, where the Kikuyu Council of Elders was expected to use its networks in Kenya to lobby for the establishment of investments in social services like education in South Sudan.

Jieng would, in return, use its influence in Juba to assure security, safety and conducive environment for Kenyan expatriates and investors.

Gen Malong said he decided to engage with Kenyan elders to assist in lobbying Nairobi to take an active role in helping South Sudan to achieve a lasting peace and stability.

“As things stand now, it is clear to all (that) many things have gone wrong in South Sudan and change is inevitable. I am seeking support from the entire continent. We were birthed in Kenya,” Gen Malong said.

He added: “We still need Kenya’s support to get to where we needed to go in setting up service delivery systems after the liberation struggle.

“For instance, we are supposed to have teachers from Kenya for at least 15 years, after which we could be left alone to do the job.”

He however made it clear that he was not seeking Kenya’s support to secure weapons of war, but rather to exert diplomatic pressure in “pushing sense into the leadership of South Sudan on how a country should be run”.

He said Sudan had enormous resources, with over 80 per cent of its land arable as opposed to Kenya’s mere 10 per cent.

Gen Malong said many investors from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and even those belonging to Arabs from the Sudan had suffered in South Sudan, but it was difficult to take stock and address the matter “until there is change of government”.

Mr Kiago told the Sudanese delegation that peace was critical for mutual economic benefits.

However, the Kenyan elders were concerned that while hundreds of South Sudanese people had lived in Kenya for decades unmolested, Kenyans and their businesses had become the target of attacks in South Sudan in recent years.

The Kikuyu Council of Elders has in recent years carved out a niche for itself on the local social cultural and political affairs, and has of late venturing beyond national borders.

—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: April 21, 2018 at 08:56PM

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