UN memo questions Britain’s Security Council veto power
Michelle Nichols, Reuters, Jul 23
UN boxtops have questioned if Britain is worthy of possessing veto power on the Security Council after the country withdrew police officers from the UNMISS peacekeeping mission in South Sudan during recent violence without consulting the world body, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters on Wednesday. Germany and Sweden also withdrew police without consultation, and the UN has barred all three countries from replacing the officers once the situation improves, said the internal memo by the UN peacekeeping department. The memo, which is an account of what happened and used by officials to inform UN Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon, said:
The departure of the police officers has affected the operational capability of the mission at headquarters level and has dealt a serious blow to the morale of its peacekeepers.
Heavy fighting involving tanks and helicopters raged in South Sudan’s capital Juba for several days earlier this month between troops loyal to Pres Salva Kiir and those backing Vice-Pres Riek Machar. At least 272 people were killed. Britain withdrew two police officers, Germany seven police and Sweden three police, according to the memo. It also said that Pindostan was reportedly planning to withdraw nine police. Sweden was recently elected a member of the 15-member council for 2017-18. Without naming Britain and Sweden, the memo said that for the states who are also on Security Council, their withdrawal of police from South Sudan “can be considered a lack of respect to their engagement on peace and security.” In reference to Britain, the memo said:
This also raises the question of their merits to hold a permanent seat at the Security Council and mandating others on how to handle peace and security issues when they themselves are quick to abandon their post in challenging situations.
A spox for the British UN mission said Britain temporarily removed its two unarmed police officers on Jul 13 “for the officers’ safety,” and had told the UN police adviser in advance. The spox did not respond to the remarks in the memo about Britain’s permanent seat. The German, Swedish and Pindosi missions did not immediately respond to a request for comment. UN spox Farhan Haq confirmed on Wednesday that some UN police did not stay at their posts during the recent violence in South Sudan, and that they would not be replaced with officers from the same country. He did not name the countries.
Split appears in South Sudan opposition, threatens more turmoil
Denis Dumo, Reuters, Jul 22 2016
A rift appeared in one of South Sudan’s two main rival groups on Friday, raising the prospect of further turmoil after months of fighting, as members of one faction threatened to replace their leader. A group inside the SPLM-IO movement issued a statement saying its head Riek Machar should return to the capital Juba and carry on his work in the government, or be removed from office. Machar, South Sudan’s Vice President, and his SPLM-IO group, have been caught up with more than two years of on-and-off, ethnically charged fighting with supporters of the country’s President Salva Kiir. Machar left the capital last week after a new outbreak of clashes, saying he would only return when an international body set up a buffer force to separate his forces from Kiir’s. Kiir called on him on Thursday to return to salvage a peace deal, and a faction of Machar’s own group, led by mining minister Taban Deng Gai, on Friday said they agreed. William Ezekiel, spokesman for SPLM-IO faction allied to Gai, said:
The decision by the government to give (Riek) Machar an ultimatum is entirely in line with its powers. On our side, we want him to show up, otherwise we will replace him.
Machar spox James Gatdet rebuffed the threats, saying that Gai’s faction had no official status in the moment. He said:
Machar has communicated to all his military commanders to cut off any communication with General Taban Deng Gai and his few individuals who support Pres (Salva) Kiir’s conspiracy.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting attended by some SPLM-IO ministers, Information Minister Michael Makuei said it was up to the party to sort out its internal differences. He told reporters after the meeting:
The cabinet has advised (Machar) to put his house in order so that they decide as to whether to replace him or declare his position vacant.
The two years of fighting started after Kiir sacked Machar as Vice-Pres in 2013 and has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced over 2 million, many of whom fled to neighbouring countries. The most recent fighting in Juba has forces 26,000 people to flee to neighbouring Uganda, said UNHCR spox Andreas Needham to a news conference in Geneva.