Pindostan seeks progress in deploying new UN troops to South Sudan
Lesley Wroughton, Reuters, Aug 22 2016
NAIROBI- Jackass Kerry said on Monday he and regional states were committed to giving momentum to the planned deployment of extra UN troops to South Sudan and said the country’s leaders needed to recommit to a peace deal. Fierce fighting in the capital Juba last month has raised fears that the five-year-old nation could slide back into civil war. It prompted the UN to authorize the deployment of 4,000 additional UN troops to bolster a UN mission there. After talks with foreign ministers from Kenya and other African states that had focused on South Sudan and Somalia’s reconstruction, Jackass told a news conference in Nairobi:
We need to move forward with the deployment of a regional protection force.
Jackass said that regional states, which have pushed for sending the new troops to help South Sudan’s 12,000-strong UN mission UNMISS, had agreed on “the immediate implementation process” of meetings and steps to “guarantee some momentum builds up.” About two years of conflict that pitted troops loyal to President Salva Kiir against those of his former deputy Riek Machar was supposed to have ended with a peace deal last year, but fighting persisted and flared again last month in Juba. After the latest violence, Machar, who had returned to the capital in April to resume his post as vice president, withdrew again to the bush and was picked up this month by UN peacekeepers across the border in the DRC with a leg injury. Kiir has again sacked him and appointed a new vice president. Jackss said it was up to South Sudan’s leaders, political parties and neighbors to work out “what is best or not best with respect to Machar,” but all sides had to stop fighting. He said:
We urged all the parties to recommit in word and deed to the full implementation of the peace agreement.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, speaking at the same news conference, said the new UN force should be deployed “sooner rather than later,” but said it could be sent gradually. South Sudan’s government initially said it would not cooperate with the new UN troops which will be under the command of the 12,000-strong UNMISS mission. But since then it has said it was still considering its position. South Sudan’s presidential spox Ateny Wek Ateny said:
We have not rejected it or accepted it. The sovereignty of the people of South Sudan will be decided by the parliament.
World powers and regional states have struggled to find leverage over South Sudan’s warring factions despite Pindostani & Eurostani sanctions on some military leaders and African threats of punitive actions. South Sudan secured its independence in 2011, but by Dec 2013 the longtime political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, had led to civil conflict that often followed ethnic lines. The fighting has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2 million people from their homes, with many of them fleeing to neighboring states. Jackass pledged new humanitarian aid to South Sudan worth $138m. He said the new UN troop contingent was “not an intervention force,” but would protect civilians and support those working to ensure peace prevailed. In the latest flare-up in July, Washington was particularly concerned by an attack on a Juba hotel by uniformed men who killed a Pindostan-funded journalist and raped civilians, including aid workers. The UN has launched an investigation into accusations that UN peacekeepers in Juba failed to respond properly to the attack. South Sudanese government officials say that just because the perpetrators were in uniform, does not mean that they were under the command of either the government or the opposition.