Kenyan, South African presidents urge cease-fire in Ethiopia

By Mogomotsi Magome

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa have called for increased cooperation to bring peace to conflict-ridden regions in Africa, at the start of the Kenyan leader’s two-day state visit to South Africa.

Meeting in Pretoria Tuesday, the two leaders discussed the “grave situation in Ethiopia” and agreed that there is an urgent need for all parties to commit to an immediate, indefinite and negotiated cease-fire, Ramaphosa said.

They also condemned recent bomb attacks in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.

The two leaders discussed the problem of Islamic extremist violence in South Africa’s neighbor, Mozambique, and in other countries across Africa.

“Terrorism is not a fight that can be fought by any one country,” said Kenyatta, referring to al-Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria and the several Islamic State groups operating in Africa.

“We must always recognize that despite them having different names, they are all collectively working together. Therefore we as governments need to work together,” said Kenyatta.

While in South Africa Kenyatta is to visit the Aspen Pharmacare factory in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) on Wednesday to see the production of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines there. The facility is assembling the J&J vaccines and can produce about 220 million doses of the J&J vaccines per year, many of which are being exported throughout Africa.

Kenya is one of South Africa’s largest trading partners in Africa outside the 15-nation Southern African Development Community.

South Africa exported about $500 million worth of goods to Kenya in 2020, compared to imports of about $22 million, according to official statistics. More than 60 South African companies are operating in Kenya.

The two leaders said they would like to see trade between South Africa and Kenya being more balanced.

“We would like to see trade between South Africa and Kenya moving toward the direction of being more balanced because it is horribly imbalanced at the moment. I would like to see Kenya’s trade with South Africa almost quadrupling because it is at a very low level at the moment,” said Ramaphosa.