By AGGREY MUTAMBO
- Dr Mutua is in the US to discuss the US-Kenya Strategic Partnership.
- But Sudan, where security factions have been fighting for the last nine days, became an immediate talking point.
- The US and other Western allies had been accusing Russian mercenaries of sowing instability across the continent.
- In Sudan, the Wagner Group, sanctioned by the US for fomenting instability, had long been suspected to have a hand there.
Kenya says Russian and Gulf countries’ involvement in Sudan’s politics is hurting the search for peace, raising concerns that only the African Union (AU) had expressed in vague terms last week.
Speaking at a press availability in the US with his host Antony Blinken, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua indicated that external interference had made it difficult to reach lasting peace in Sudan, expressing the same sentiments as those of the AU last week. But the Kenyan top diplomat fingered Russia and some Gulf countries of taking sides as the continent pursues a return-to-civilian rule in Sudan.
Dr. Mutua is in the US to discuss the US-Kenya Strategic Partnership, a deal meant to guide how future trade and economic relations with the US will run, including adhering to conservation and climate change demands.
But Sudan, where security factions have been fighting for the last nine days, became an immediate talking point.
‘More bullets coming’
“It is quite tragic that we have more bullets coming into Sudan or being used in Sudan than food. And it’s a tragedy, because we see from where we sit a lot of international interference, a lot of other players trying to use Sudan as a playing field for whatever reason, for the gold in Sudan, for territorial strength and control of the region,” Mutua said at a joint briefing with Secretary of State Blinken.
“And we’re trying to ask – we are asking external forces to leave Sudan alone. As an African continent and the AU and intergovernmental organisation called Igad, we are trying to find solutions for Sudan.”
Dr Mutua was then asked to clarify the remarks including whether he had spoken to the countries in question directly.
“We’ve been quite concerned by some of our friends in the Middle East as (inaudible) Russia and others who for a long time have been friendly to either one or the other side,” he added.
“And we are just saying that at this particular time, it is not a time to take sides in a war. It’s time to be able to come together and bring them together because at the end of the day, peace has to prevail. And so it doesn’t matter who you support; at the end of the day, we need to have the people of Sudan have stability.”
The US and other Western allies had been accusing Russian mercenaries of sowing instability across the continent. In Sudan, the Wagner Group, sanctioned by the US for fomenting instability, had long been suspected to have a hand there. But the group, a private military company founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, rejected accusations last week.
In a message on Telegram channel, the group said “we consider it necessary to inform everyone that Wagner staff have not been in Sudan for more than two years.” It said Mr Prigozhin aka Putin’s Chef has no financial interest in Sudan.
Blinken, however, was more diplomatic, saying Washington has prevailed upon Gulf countries not to fuel the violence.
“It remains vitally important that countries use whatever positive influence they have to try to move Sudan in that direction,” he said.
“We do have deep concern about the engagement of the Prigozhin group, the Wagner Group, in Sudan. It’s in so many different countries in Africa – an element that, when it’s engaged, simply brings more death and destruction with it. And it’s very important that we [do] not see its further engagement in Sudan. And I know a number of countries are very concerned with that prospect.”
Later on Monday, the warring sides; Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary unit, agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire.
(Source: The East African)