US, Rwanda Military chiefs for ‘political solution’ in South Sudan

Major General Kurt Sonntag, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) (5th from left) in Rwanda for consultations

A United States Army General flew in to Kigali today where he is consulting Rwanda on how to fix the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

Major General Kurt Sonntag, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) arrived Thursday and held talks with General Patrick Nyamvumba, the Chief of Defence Staff of the RDF.

The two Generals agreed that the crisis in South Sudan requires a political solution and cannot only be solved by military means.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in 2013 fell out with his vice Riek Machar, little more than two years after South Sudan became independent.  Kiir accused his vice president of plotting against him.

The result was a civil war that killed tens of thousands of people. In August 2015 the two rivals sealed a series of peace agreements.

However, on July 10 this year, fighting resumed again claiming hundreds of lives and this threatens the peace agreement.

According to Lt. Col. René Ngendahimana, RDF spokesperson, both Generals, “discussed military partnerships between United states Army and East Africa forces in area of peace keeping operations.”

Major General Kurt said the need to strengthen military links is timely, given security context some countries of the East African community are experiencing.

“US is pleased and appreciates the peace keeping missions by Rwanda Defense Force across the world,” the General said.

The region has recently suffered conflicts including persisting Burundi crisis and the South Sudan crisis which has claimed hundreds of lives in days.

Rwanda is among top five UN’s force contributing countries with 6,000 peace keepers around the world currently. Of them, 1,650 troops are in United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The US General said his country is willing to provide more training to Rwanda peace keeping force.

In May this year, the United States endorsed “Kigali Principles” which consists of peace keeping values promoted by Rwanda. About 30 countries are signatories to Kigali Principles.

Kigali Principles require countries contributing to UN peacekeeping troops to always send well trained peace keepers and to intervene without delay in a country where an armed conflict is killing civilians.

Commenting on the bilateral military partnerships, General Nyamvumba said, “ This is a sign  of  strong and continued  relations we have  with  US and it  will continue  to  increase  mainly in  military  operations.”

In the afternoon, Sonntag who is on a-1 day visit to Rwanda visited the Kigali Genocide memorial.