Leaders from the East African regional bloc (IGAD) have called on the United Nations and the international community to urgently intervene in South Sudan’s conflict to try and bring an end to the fighting.
The Sudan Tribune reported on Sunday that IGAD had released a strongly-worded communique in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, warning that any delay in helping to avert the deteriorating humanitarian situation represented a security threat to countries in the region.
In the communiqué, which was the outcome of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of IGAD held on Friday, IGAD said its member states had been shouldering a heavy burden.
“The situation in South Sudan is a serious threat to regional peace, security and stability,” read the communiqué. “Neighbouring countries have been shouldering the heavy burden of the conflict since its outbreak in December 2013, including the continued and intensive flow of refugees, as well as proliferation of illicit small arms and weapons and instability.”
The leaders stated that the international community, particularly the UN Security Council (UNSC), had the duty and moral responsibility to act decisively and swiftly in supporting IGAD and African Union (AU) efforts to bring to an end the suffering of the people.
The meeting further condemned the “continuing obstruction of Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism – Monitoring and Verification Teams (CTSAMM-MVTs) and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) from implementing their tasks and mandates”.
It also called upon South Sudan’s Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) to ensure freedom of movement for CTSAMM and UNMISS forces as well as respecting the Status of Forces Agreement between the Republic of South Sudan and UNMISS.
The South Sudanese government delegation was chaired by First Vice President Taban Deng Gai who informed the meeting of his decision to resign in favour of the former FVP Riek Machar.
Machar’s spokesperson earlier said their leader would come out of hiding and return to Juba after Gai steps down and a third party force is deployed in Juba.
Meanwhile, President Salva Kiir and his South Sudanese government have emphatically denied surrendering the country’s sovereignty to a foreign force after reluctantly accepting the presence of such a force in the capital Juba following heavy pressure from the AU and the UN.
Kiir had earlier vowed “that not a single foreign soldier would be allowed to enter South Sudan”.
However, following Friday’s IGAD summit in Addis Ababa, a communiqué was released “resolving to deploy unspecified number of foreign troops to Juba to take charge of its security and protection of leaders and civilians at risk”, reported the Tribune.
Point number 11 of the IGAD communiqué reads: “Calls upon the UNSC to urgently extend the mission of UNMISS with a revised mandate including the deployment of the Regional Protection Force with distinct responsibilities under the direct command of a commander who will report to the overall UNMISS Force Commander, to be based in Juba.”
Kiir’s about-face was explained by claiming that his country would not be surrendering its sovereignty.
South Sudanese cabinet affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomoru, told the Tribune that the decision of the government to accept deployment of additional foreign troops to the country did not undermine the national sovereignty of the country because the government would participate in future discussions before actual deployment took place.
“The position of the government was clear and remained clear until it was understood by the region,” stated Lomuro.
“The government categorically rejected the deployment of an intervention force and this was explained at the summit. So what has been accepted in principle is simply the deployment of the protection force to protect Internally Displaced Persons, NGOs and members of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC),” Lomuro explained.
– African News Agency (ANA)