President Banda pays tribute to Kenya, jointly presides over signing of peace deal

Malawi President Dr Joyce Banda has paid tribute to Kenyans who are celebrating 50 years of independence from Britain saying Malawi and Kenya enjoy strong relations dating back to the rule of the two countries’ founding fathers, Hastings p Banda and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

Speaking during the climax of the celebrations at the Moi international Sports Complex President Banda one of five of the 20 heads of state and Presdents who spoke said Kenya has had a strong influence on her and what she has achieved and what she is today having lived in Kenya in the 70s.

The President specifically singled out Mama Ngina Kenyatta,  Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s  widow as having had a special influence on her. She did not explain how.

“I particularly want to thank you for what you did to me, said Banda in reference to Mama Ngina who was present at the celebrations.

President Banda with other leaders as she graced Kenya’s golden jubilee

Never shy or short of humor the Malawi President caused laughter when she narrated how speaking in Swahili with her limited knowledge of the language, she rebuked instead thanking her host for a delicious meal.

She told the packed stadium that nobody would develop Kenya for them but themselves adding that Kenyans  must come together and build an all-inclusive society.

Other speakers at the function apart from the host president were Ethiopian prime minister, Haillemariam Desalegn, Tanzania après ident Yakaya Kikwete, Yoweri Museveni  of Uganda, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, who among other things paid glowing tribute to the gallant Kenyans who fought for independence from the colonialists.

The celebrations were characterized by colour, song and dance and attended by an estimated 60,000 people who braved the early morning showers. As the celebrations went into full gear, rain and cloud conveniently dissipated, giving way to the more likable sunshine much to the comfort of the patrons.

Later in the evening President Banda as chairman of Sadc jointly with President Yoweri  Museveni presided over the signing ceremony of a peace agreement between the Democratic Republic  of Congo and M23 group whose civil war has paralyzed most of the eastern part of the DRC.

The M23 argues that President Joseph Kabila has reneged on a 2009 peace agreement signed by the two entities in 2009.

Museveni is the chairman of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region who has been the main mediator between the two entities.

In the declaration the two sides have agreed to disarm and release militia members who are under detention by the DRC government and demobilise former combatants and return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.

The two leaders paid tribute to all the organizations  and countries in the region who played a crucial role in the mediation leading to the signing of the peace agreement.

Both President Banda and Museveni  said SADC  and tICGLR are keen to see to it that there is peace in the region as a prerequisite for development.

The declaration outlines agreed steps and principles for ending armed struggle in the DRC .

“The signing of this agreement is another chapter on how the Congolese and M23 should engage with one another in a peaceful atmosphere so that humanitarian situation in the Eastern DRC is permanently resolved,” said President  Banda.

“The signing of this agreement, without doubt, is a step in the right direction as it has not only symbolised our coordinated efforts towards the swift resolution of the Eastern DRC humanitarian situation but also provides a solution towards achieving the root cause of the conflict,” she said.

Among those who have played a key role in the mediation of the peace deal are Mary Robinson, the United Nations (UN) Envoy to the Great Lakes. She is hailed for her tireless efforts in ensuring that the UN Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes Region of Africa is implemented by the signatories.

“It is one thing to append ones signature to this agreement and another thing to ensure that all the precepts contained in the agreement are translated in practical measures in ensuring long lasting peace and stability is attained,” she said.

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