Opinion and Analysis
What can South Sudan learn from Kenya?
Posted Monday, June 11 2012 at 19:07
Two interesting meetings, involving Kenya and South Sudan were held at the same Mombasa hotel and are indicative of common concerns between the two countries.
South Sudan’s newly appointed envoys were receiving training on effective diplomatic representation. The training is part of Kenya’s support for South Sudan’s capacity building programmes.
For three weeks, Kenyan experts on diplomatic theories and practice, the concepts of national interests and the safeguarding of sovereignty, matters of security and peace, and the handling of international hostilities, had explained various international nuances and their possible ramifications to South Sudan and the region.
Among the things that were stressed is the clear identification of national interests that each country needs to secure.
These include sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national values which, as one Kenyan general asserts, “the right to think.”
The people to do the identification, however, was challenging if the country did not have the right people in the right offices.
These should be knowledgeable, committed to the national well being, and should not beholden to foreign interests.
Having ignorant people, those who are not committed or those whose primary loyalty is to foreigners, in policy making positions is a threat to national security and sense of peace.
The challenge for South Sudan is to tell who is who in placing policy makers.
As the South Sudan diplomats were winding up their training, virtually the entire officialdom in Kenya descended on the same hotel to talk about the forthcoming elections and how to ensure there is no repeat of the post-poll violence in 2008.
That show did not escape the attention of the South Sudanese guests who included a cabinet minister and an assistant minister.
As they internalised the presentations from their Kenyan “trainers”, the subject of chaos in the country cropped up.
People, the ambassadors stated, need to know the devastating effect of disturbances in Kenya to the rest of the eastern Africa region.
In 2007 and 2008, they remarked, South Sudan ran out of essential supplies because Kenyans were not delivering them.
Vehicles, including official cars for ministers, were packed in garages because of lack of fuel. Irrespective of how much money one had, there simply were no goods to buy.