Africa 5.9.2016 04:59 pm

Juba caves in to pressure for additional peacekeepers

UN peacekeepers in South Sudan with one of their helicopters (UNMISS)

UN peacekeepers in South Sudan with one of their helicopters (UNMISS)

After initially rejecting the additional deployment of troops as a legitimate military attack against South Sudan, President Salva Kiir has caved in to pressure by the UNSC.

After intensive regional and international pressure, the government of South Sudan has relented to pressure and agreed to the deployment of 4 000 extra soldiers to supplement the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) troops already deployed in the country .

The Sudan Tribune reported on Sunday that South Sudan President Salva Kiir had accepted the deployment of the soldiers, authorised by the UN Security Council (UNSC), after previously threatening that any additional foreign soldiers on South Sudan territory would be considered a legitimate target for military attack.

Kiir’s reluctant acceptance of the deployment followed a Sunday meeting between Juba and a UNSC team led by US permanent representative to the UN, Samantha Power.

South Sudan Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elias Lomoro read out a joint communique agreed to by the Juba government and the UNSC in the capital, Juba, reported the Tribune.

“To improve the security situation, the Transitional Government of National Unity gave its consent to the deployment, as part of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), of the regional protection force recently authorised by the United Nations Security Resolution 2304,” said Lomoro.

“Further, the United Nations Security Council agreed that the troops-contributing countries, UNMISS and the Transitional Government of National Unity will continue to work through the modalities of deployment; building upon the consultations of August 25 and September 1 respectively; and anticipating any further discussion that will follow,” he added.

The United Nations Security Council and the Transitional Government of National Unity agreed to work in a fresh spirit of cooperation to advance the interest of South Sudanese people, particularly the aspiration for justice, liberty and prosperity, stressed the communique.

The UNSC and government also agreed that “security and humanitarian needs were paramount”.

Juba also pledged to follow through on its commitments to implement the August 2015 peace agreement, agreed to by both Kiir and former opposition leader Dr Riek Machar, who is now in exile after he fled the country claiming his life was in danger.

Most importantly Juba has agreed that UNMISS will be accorded unimpeded access and freedom of movement in the country by removing bureaucratic delays, such as the UN organisation requiring written permission from the South Sudan authorities before being able to access certain areas in the world’s newest country.

“To this end, the Transitional Government of National Unity commits to devising a plan with UNMISS by the end of September 2016 on concerted steps to remove impediments to UNMISS’s ability to implement its mandate,” Lomoro said.

Helmoed Heitman, South African correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly and an expert on conflict in Africa, told the African News Agency (ANA) what was desperately needed was the immediate deployment of a huge neutral force to separate the warring factions and enforce peace and that force would need to stay at least 10 years, said Heitman.

“The force that would have to go in would have to be big enough and strong enough to counter military resistance from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which is no pushover militarily, even if it has outdated fighter jets and equipment,” said Heitman.

“Without the deployment of an effective third force, the antagonism among the various warring factions in South Sudan would continue, and none of these players are going to play by the rules,” Heitman told ANA.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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