Kenyan president to attend Ethiopia’s reconciliation festival amid strong ties

Kenyan president to attend Ethiopia’s reconciliation festival amid strong ties

ADDIS ABABA, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — The Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to attend the national peace and reconciliation festival in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, scheduled to be held next month, amid the two East African countries’ joint aspiration to further deepen historic ties.

Kenyatta confirmed his decision to attend Ethiopia’s upcoming national reconciliation festival during his meeting with members of Ethiopia’s National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace Committee in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the Ethiopian government revealed on Sunday.

“The Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said he will be attending Ethiopia’s peace and reconciliation festival to be held in September, accepting Ethiopia’s invitation,” the state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported on Sunday.

The Ethiopian reconciliation and peace delegation, which was headed by the East African country’s former President Mulatu Teshome, brought together former senior Ethiopian government officials as well as representatives from Ethiopian religious institutions, youth, civic organizations, and the business community.

The Kenyan President, who underscored Ethiopia’s continued positive partnership with its neighboring country, stressed that “the brotherly Ethiopia-Kenya relations is tied through historic partnership,” which is manifested by the memorable support from Ethiopia during Kenya’s struggle for independence.

“I am going to attend the festival as you Ethiopians,” ENA quoted Kenyatta as saying.

Kenyatta, who also commended Ethiopia’s initiative in encouraging peace and reconciliation, further stressed the need for leaders “to leave a legacy of peace and prosperity rather than failure and destruction.”

In addition to President Uhuru Kenyatta, former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is also expected to attend the September reconciliation festival.

The Ethiopian reconciliation and peace delegation, in addition to inviting Kenyatta to take part in the national reconciliation event, also expressed its keen interest for Kenya to share its best practice in resolving conflicts.

The high-level national reconciliation committee was established to follow up the East African country’s wide-ranging reform endeavor, with particular emphasis given to promoting unity, reconciliation and peace among the different Ethiopian communities and groups.

The latest development came as the two countries, who have had positive diplomatic and social ties, envisaged to exert concerted cultural diplomacy efforts to tackle recurrent deadly conflicts among communities along the Ethiopia-Kenya border areas.

As part of the joint cultural diplomacy efforts, the two countries also disclosed earlier this week that their joint plan to organize the Turkana Culture and Tourism Festival, which aimed to bring together some 10,000 participants towards promoting peaceful coexistence among border communities.

“Cultural diplomacy efforts around Ethiopia and Kenya borders have a pivotal role to alleviate the recurrent conflicts and ensure development,” ENA quoted Meles Alem, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Kenya, said on Thursday.

According to Alem, the upcoming event “will help pastoralist communities of the two countries to create closeness and enable them to have a common understanding on the issue of development and the declining conflicts from time to time.”

Conflicts around the two countries’ border areas, driven by scarcity of pasture and water, cattle rustling, politics of ethnicity and administrative boundary disputes, often cause deadly calamities.

The two countries, in recent years, have been undertaking various measures towards promoting cultural and diplomatic relations so as to avert recurrent conflicts.

In April this year, a regional conference on peace along Ethiopia-Kenya borders had also emphasized on the need to employ concerted efforts to ensure sustainable peace that enables addressing poverty and development challenges of cross-border communities of the two countries.

The regional peace conference, which brought together government officials from Ethiopia and Kenya as well as representatives of UN, EU, and Intergovernmental Authority on Development, mainly aimed to tackle recurrent conflicts among communities along the two countries’ borders.