Monday, 06 December 2010 09:11
Sudanese Ambassador Majok Guandong has been appointed Chief of Protocol, Government of Southern Sudan. He takes home fond memories as told to DEA’s JANE MWANGI
Diplomat East Africa: The newly-incepted position of Chief of Protocol is a first in your country. What are your feelings about this new development?
Majok Guandong: To be the first ever Chief of Protocol, Government of Southern Sudan, is a great honour for me. I am delighted to be accorded this chance to serve my country. President Al Bashir and first Vice-President Salva Kirr have unwavering confidence in me as I was not even consulted before being appointed.
Q: What responsibilities will you be required to execute and when do you officially report for duty?
A: I will perform all the diplomatic work within the Government, making sure all the necessary protocol is carried out as well as handling all the appointments, arranging for and travel alongside the President. Indeed, it will be a challenging post as I will be required to be vigilant 24/7, but I am up to the challenge. I am required to take over the new position in exactly three months.
Q: Your most defining moment since being appointed Ambassador in 2007?
A: It has been a great honour, especially since I was the first envoy to be appointed after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Nairobi. Being the first ambassador here was a major fulfilment for me. Every day has been a privilege to be able to bolster and expand relations between Sudan and Kenya.
Q: Looking forward, expound on the improved relations that have been forged during your tour of duty? Do you feel you have adequately fulfilled the objectives?
A: The work of a diplomat is to strengthen relations between two countries. I have improved the relations to a very large extent in economic, political and social ties. I believe I have fully represented the interests of my country; and, above all, I am proud of the fact that I have transformed the image of Sudan into that of a country that is now enjoying peace.
Q: What are your impressions of Kenya and her people? As an outsider looking in, what have you been able to learn about Kenya?
A: Kenya has always been a great ally of Sudan. Since the war, Kenya has been hosting our people. Many are studying here. I am glad to have had full access to the key figures in authority anytime I wanted to discuss pertinent issues concerning Sudan. President Kibaki and his administration have accorded us very cordial relations. I have met my objectives and will continue working to improve relations between Kenya and Sudan even in my new capacity so that our relations become the best in this region of Africa. The Government of Kenya has made it easier for Sudanese nationals to obtain visas at the port of entry; we are reciprocating by giving Kenyans visas on the same day of application. The people of Kenya are among the best in the world. I extend my gratitude for their friendship and hospitality. I feel at home here and there is no one time when I ever felt like a stranger.
Q: What diplomatic challenges have you encountered since being accredited to Kenya?
A: The biggest has to be the indictment of President Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March 2008. We had to work towards defending the image of the President and campaign against ICC’s verdict. We have been able to persevere throughout this entire process, despite the challenges.
Q: What positive notes are you taking away and what would you like to borrow from your illustrious career as a diplomat?
A: My new job is an extension of my work as a diplomat. I have gained great experience as an envoy, which I will use to strengthen and complement my new position. I have been privileged to serve in Kenya and am more than glad to go back to my country and offer service in the best way I can.
Q: In your candid opinion, should Africa get ready for its newest state come the January 9 referendum?
A: Speaking as a representative of Sudan, we are working to preserve the unity of the country. We would like the southerners to keep the unity, but should they opt for a split then we shall respect the verdict and work towards development and forge ahead for a new and promising future.