The late Moi’s contributions to South Sudan Independence
By: Mandela Nelson Denis
The former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi died on Tuesday at the age of 95. His death was announced by his son.
For many Kenyans, the rule of Kenya’s second President, Daniel Arap Moi, was marked by deepening corruption and nepotism. Moi came from simple pastoral roots and ruled for decades.
But for South Sudan, he greatly contributed to the peace talks between the Sudan Government and then Sudanese rebels that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that paved way for the independence of South Sudan in 2011.
Moi has visited South Sudan on several occasions.
The late Moi played key roles to the referendum of South Sudan. In 2005, the Moi Africa Institute stepped in to reconcile the then Southern Sudanese groups.
There were suspicions among then Sudanese rebel groups and it gave Moi its first test as a conflict resolution organization.
The Moi Africa Institute organized a three-day conference that brought together political, civil society and armed groups in Nairobi.
The groups met and discussed their differences that arose from past allegations that the then Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) led by late Dr. John Garang had isolated other stakeholders.
The conference was part of the peace agreement’s six-month pre-implementation period in which both the Southerners and the Sudan government were expected to establish necessary infrastructure.
Moi played a vital role in the process that culminated in the creation of the Republic of South Sudan.
Moi was charged with merging Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace initiative with the Libyan-Egyptian initiative, the essence which was distilled in a joint memorandum in July 2001.
The then US peace envoy, John Danforth brought Moi and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt on board, urging them to work together in the peace effort, which later succeeded in reconciling the two regional peace initiatives.
Moi dispatched Kenya’s special envoy for the Sudanese peace process, Lt-Gen Lazarus Sumbeiywo, to Egypt for talks on how to proceed with the merger of the parallel peace efforts. His efforts bore fruits when the Egyptian led initiative agreed. Moi encouraged warring parties to reach an agreement.
He invited all parties interested in the Sudan peace process to a meeting in Nairobi, which succeeded in building a team of experts to spearhead the talks.
The team led by Sumbeiywo brought together in face-to-face talks Sudanese Vice- President Ali Osman Taha and the leader of the SPLM/A, and Dr. John Garang. The meeting laid the foundation for a ceasefire.
In his speech at the Igad summit in Sudan in July 2001, Moi deplored the intransigence of the sides involved in the conflict and their refusal to make concessions.
The peace process was in the danger of collapse unless it was put on the right track and had the necessary impetus created to achieve an early peace agreement, Moi said.
In his effort to bring peace in Sudan, Moi agreed with Norwegian Minister for International Development Hilde Johnson, during her stopover in Nairobi after a working visit to North and South Sudan, on the significance of international support for the Sudanese peace process.
Johnson, her British counterpart, Clare Short, and the US peace envoy, John Danforth, were engaged in hectic shuttle diplomacy to both the government and rebel-held areas of Sudan, as well as Nairobi and other regional centers, to re-energize efforts to find a just peace in Sudan.
In his congratulatory message, Moi said he shared in the joy and celebrations of the birth of the new State.
He urged President Kiir to lead his people in building the new nation.
“Your hour has come. The pain of your freedom struggle has eventually been rewarded,” said Moi.
President Salva Kiir visited the late Moi mid last year and was commended by the former Kenyan leader for his role in peace building.
The two leaders discussed peace initiatives in the country and President Kiir appreciated the late for his efforts in bringing peace and stability in South Sudan.
Moi became the second President of Kenya from 1978 after the death of Jomo Kenyatta and served till 2002.
Moi was born on September 2nd 1924 in Kurieng’wo village, Sacho division, Baringo District, Rift Valley Province and was raised by his mother Kimoi Chebii following the death of his father.
After completing his Secondary School education, he attended Tambach Teachers Training College in Keiyo District.
It should be remembered that the late Moi played a key role to process that finally breathed Africa’s youngest Nation.
Kenya is one of the countries that is home to thousands of South Sudanese studying and living there.