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Kenya's ambassador to South Sudan collapses, dies in Juba

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

JUBA, South Sudan - Chris Mburu, Kenya's envoy to troubled South Sudan, collapsed and died instantly on Sunday, authorities in Nairobi confirmed.

A source at Kenya's foreign affairs department said Mr. Mburu died of a suspected heart attack at his house in the suburbs of Juba.

He said: "What we know for now is that he suffered from a heart attack at his house and died instantly. We are yet to get finer details."

Prior to his death, Mburu had traveled from Nairobi on Sunday to his work station in Juba, a week after accompanying President Salva Kiir to Nairobi.

Kiir, who is facing rebellion in South Sudan, was one of the presidents who attended the state funeral for Kenya's former President Daniel Moi.

In his speech, he insisted that "South Sudan owes Moi even in his death" given the instrumental role the nonagenarian played in brokering peace with Sudan.

Mburu, a former spy chief with Kenya's National Intelligence Service [NIS], was first vetted and deployed as envoy to South Sudan in 2018.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a statement on Monday, described him as a "great public servant" who served the country with "distinction".

"Since his appointment as our envoy to Juba, Mburu has worked hard to ensure the free flow of trade and investment between Kenya and South Sudan,” he said.

He added, “Kenya has lost a brilliant public servant whose star was shining bright and whose service shall be dearly missed".

Foreign Affairs ministry will be entrusted to ferry his remains and subsequent burial in Kenya, the official added without divulging to finer details.

His death comes at the time Africa's youngest nation is battling with internal squabbles, which have delayed the formation of a unity government.

Over the weekend, Mr. Kiir trimmed South Sudanese states to 10 from the initial 32. However, he gave a room for the addition of three more stares.

These regions include Abyei, whose border demarcation with Sudan is still a matter of discussion, Ruweng and Greater Pibor Areas, usually seen as oil-rich.

“We recognized that this decision may not have been the best option for our people but for the sake of peace and unity in the country, the president sees it as necessary,” Kiir said.

But his main rival, Riek Machar, who also served as Vice President before parting ways, rejected the idea of creating three more regions.

He said: "This opens up another Pandora box defeating the purpose of reverting to ten states."

Kenya is a key player in South Sudan's unity talks. Mr. Mburu has been working with former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka to negotiate the peace deal.


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