Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda said they will send a stabilization and protection force to the troubled state of South Sudan as early as mid-April this year. At the end of the 25th extraordinary session of the IGAD assembly of Heads of State and Government, chief South Sudan mediator Amb. Seyoum Mesfin said, "we want to see the effective implementation of this mechanism at the earliest possible time."
The East African Force with a "protection and deterrent" mandate to be approved by the UN Security Council and if approved funded by the international community. It should be "included in the UN framework already in existence," U.S. Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Amb. Donald Booth said during the opening of the 25th extraordinary summit yesterday.
Amb. Syoum said: "The mandate is protection and deterrence. They will protect the mechanism for the verifying and monitoring mechanism for the cessation of hostilities. They will also deter from any attack of critical areas that are of paramount importance to the country."
Last month South Sudan rival signed the Implementation Modalities of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities (COH) by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the SPLM/A (In Opposition) here in Addis Ababa. Yesterday's summit hailed the signing as "a significant step in the implementation of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism."
Fighting in South Sudan began in December last year following the accusation by President Salva Kiir of an alleged coup attempt orchestrated by his former deputy Riek Machar, who was sacked by the president in July of the same year. A one month intensive fighting pitted ethnic Dinka and Nuer groups against each other and has left thousands dead and close to a million more displaced.