26 November 2016

South Sudan: Juba Agrees to UN Force Deployment

South Sudan has agreed to deploy a regional force after fighting in the capital Juba threatened to plunge the country into a civil war. President Kiir initially opposed the deployment as a breach of national sovereignty.

President Salva Kiir has come under international pressure to accept the deployment of extra troops, which will help the United Nations mission, UNMISS, to bring peace to the five-year-old country.

At least 60 people were killed in weekend fighting in Malakal, South Sudan. Rebel leader Riek Machar told DW he remains committed to the peace deal but bemoans a lack of assistance from the international Enlarged role for Japanese force in Africa stirs concerns at home

Deputy Information Minister Akol Paul Kordit said late Friday that the "cabinet has resolved unanimously to allow the deployment of the regional protection force anytime from now."

"We have agreed without precondition because the resolution is clear and we want the country to move forward," Kordit added. "So our committee is going to finalize the deployment process."

The announcement came after a lengthy cabinet meeting chaired by President Kiir. It is unclear when and where in the capital the force would be stationed.

The matters to be resolved include the number and the exact role of the extra troops, nationality of the soldiers, and the type of weaponry the force will use.

Risk of mass atrocities

In July, clashes broke out between rebel army factions in the capital as the African nation marked its fifth independence anniversary.

The violence was reminiscent of the skirmishes between the factions of South Sudanese soldiers in 2013 that plunged the newly independent country into a civil war and killed tens of thousands of people.

The opposing army factions, led by Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, have been stationed in Juba since April, after the warring parties signed a peace agreement last year.

But the troops have yet to work together to jointly maintain peace in the capital.

The UN wants an empowered regional force that can ensure security in Juba, including at the airport and UN facilities in the country.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council last week that the United Nations needed to define what actions it is prepared to take if fighting breaks out again in South Sudan.

"There is a very real risk of mass atrocities being committed in South Sudan, particularly following the sharp rise in hate speech and ethnic incitement in recent weeks," Ban said.

shs/jlw (Reuters, AFP)

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