Juba — South Sudanese rebels led by the former vice-president Riek Machar rejected on Thursday the use of United Nation peacekeepers to protect oil installations in the country, saying such a mandate would make the world body complicit in the 5-month conflict.
The UN Security Council adopted on Wednesday resolution 2155 (2014) renewing the mandate of its mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and condemned the attacks on oil installations, petroleum companies and their employees as well as the fighting around these facilities. It urged all parties to ensure this infrastructure, which is the only source of national revenue, was protected.
The 15-member body further included the protection of oil installations among the tasks that the 12500 peacekeepers have to fulfill, saying it was concerned by "the threats made to oil installations, petroleum companies and their employees".
The "Military Leadership of SPLA totally rejects the clause under Protection of Civilians (ii) which in particular gives UNMISS the right to protect oil installations, 'in particular when the Government of the Republic of South Sudan is unable or failing to provide such security'," said a statement released by the rebel military spokesperson, Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang on Friday.
Koang argued that protection of the oil installations by the UNMISS forces will be ensuring continuous flow of oil revenues and give the government in Juba the needed means to fight them and maintain president Kiir in power.
"We feel that it's not the business of UNMISS to provide protection to Oil Installations whether the government of the Republic of South Sudan is capable or not. By stepping in to protection Oil Installations on behalf of the government, UNMISS will have sided with one of the parties to the conflict and inevitably becomes part of the problem not solution," he said.
The statement further claimed that revenues generated from oil sales are being used by Kiir's government to "pay mercenaries from Uganda (UPDF) JEM, and SPLA North fighters" that are accused of fighting alongside the government troops.
The rebel spokesperson recalled that the UNMISS admitted the participation of JEM fighters in a report released on 8 May and urged the Security Council to reconsider this decision emphasising that "otherwise the line that delineates UNMISS force from UPDF will be seriously blared".
This week, the Juba government welcomed the six-month renewal of UNMISS's new mandate and vowed to cooperate with the world body on this matter.
"As the government, we welcome the extension of the mandate of the United Nations mission here. We will extend our support as usual and assurance of commitment to working together to support our people. The support of the United Nations is still crucial here because we still need it in South Sudan to help people achieve peace and stability", said foreign Ministry spokesperson Mawien Makol Arik on Thursday.
Arik added that his government has formed a committee to review UNMISS mandate.