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H, PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AT THE CLOSING OF THE SIXTH EXTRAORDINARY SUMMIT OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT ON THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE GREAT LAKES REGION ON 31 JULY 2013, NAIROBI. Excellencies Distinguished ladies and gentlemen Our efforts here on behalf of the DRC form a continuum. Since independence, Kenya realised that forging regional peace from the contradictions and challenges foisted on us by the colonial and cold war politics of the twentieth century was crucial to our future as a country. In the 1960s and 1970s, we embarked on playing a constructive role in peace building. Our diplomats and peacekeeping troops have contributed to the protection of African lives. They have helped build peace agreements that have led to strong platforms for rebuilding nations torn asunder by war. In Somalia, we worked, and continue to work with our neighbours, partners and Somalis to forge the agreement and actions that have led to the present promise of a lasting stability and good government. We did the same in Sudan and the comprehensive peace agreement of 2005 signed in Naivasha was just the reward. The agreement in Naivasha, just a short drive from here, was as a result of our remaining committed, alongside the region, in pursuit of peace. Close to Naivasha, all the way back in 1975, the first President of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, met with three leaders of Angola’s rebel movements who were engaged in a struggle against each other, even as they worked to end colonial rule. There, they issued the Nakuru declaration to cease their hostilities. We remained engaged through the challenges that followed. We were also fully engaged in Mozambique where our diplomats helped bring 16 years of civil war to an end in 1992. In West Africa, our peacekeeping troops served with distinction in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Excellencies It is for us to work together in the profound understanding that underlying these agreements to cease violence are the demands of the economies whose prosperity is the only lasting solution to peace. Those young men who might otherwise turn to violence and rebellion will require jobs. Mothers and young women who seek to raise families and realise their hopes for better lives need incomes and livelihoods. The fact is that threats to peace in our great lakes region distort our social and economic development. Instability, insecurity and abject poverty nullify our individual and collective efforts to meet the aspirations of our people and improve their welfare.
Indeed, the amount of time, energy and resources the region has expended in addressing issues of peace and security are not commensurate with progress made and gains realised. As the current leaders of the region, we have a clear responsibility to ensure that progress is made to break this vicious cycle of violence that we have inherited. Our people deserve better. They want and expect and deserve a region at peace with itself and its neighbours. They deserve a region whose abundant resources are directed solely towards their social and economic growth and development. We should and must restore the dignity of our people. We must change our region from one of with despair, pain and hopelessness to a region of renewal, hope, innovation, economic growth and prosperity. Excellencies Today, together, let us erase the previous narrative and start developing a new one that responds to the region’s needs. A new narrative of new infrastructure that links our countries and our peoples. A new narrative that allows us to move, without any obstacles, goods, services, knowledge, experience and labour within and among our countries. A new narrative that talks about new innovations that place us at the cutting edge of technological development. And, yes, a new narrative that talks of investments in science, health, and education. That is where most of our efforts and energies must be directed. We need peace, security and stability to do all these things. But without development, peace will remain a dream. So, we must pursue both economic development and peace. For me, the balance of commitments and effort must be in favour of economic development. I look forward to our working together in the great lakes region to build infrastructures of peace, as well as trade and investment. A prosperous region can deliver better lives and lasting peace to its citizens. Excellencies I thank you.