South Sudan Information Minister Says Gov’t will Meet to Take Final Decision on UN Peacekeeper Deployment

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South Sudan’s information minister says the government in Juba would soon meet to decide on a way forward following a decision by the U.N. Security Council authorizing a 4,000-member regional protection force for the capital, Juba.

The authorization follows heavy fighting last month in Juba that left hundreds of people dead, including two Chinese peacekeepers, raising fears of a return to civil war. The U.N. peacekeeping force in South Sudan was criticized for failing to protect civilians at U.N. sites.

The council Friday adopted the U.S.-drafted resolution that also threatens an arms embargo on South Sudan’s government if it does not cooperate with the deployment. The vote was 11 in favor with four abstentions — China, Russia, Egypt and Venezuela.

The troops would be deployed to Juba, and are authorized to “use all necessary means, including undertaking robust action where necessary” to enforce their mandate.

But South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei, says the Security Council’s decision is a violation of the sovereignty of South Sudan. He says the decision also undermines the peace agreement signed last year to end the country’s conflict.

“The resolution taken by the U.N. Security Council is in flagrant violation of the rights of a member of the U.N. body. It amounts to an intervention and this is very clear in the terms even though the penholder tried to play with the words. But, nevertheless it is a clear case of intervention. And it is a clear case of disregard of [the]sovereignty of a member state, and] that is even against provisions of the U.N. Charter…“The fact that the resolution is taken by the U.N. does not necessarily mean that it must be as it is ,” said Makuei.

But critics of the administration say the U.N. resolution is just an affirmation of a recently-held regional meeting of leaders from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

This, after supporters of Riek Machar, the replaced first vice president of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), welcomed the U.N. resolution as a positive step.

“This is misleading… It is complete disregard of the resolution of the IGAD and the IGAD Plus summit which was held on [August] 5th . It is a complete diversion and it is a misleading report and it is misleading to say that you are conforming with the decision. Because, in the IGAD summit plus, it did not provide for whatever figures, it did not provide for intelligence, it did not provide for the taking over of Juba airport [and]it did not provide for all these,” said Makuei.

“The government will sit and it will come out with the official position,” he added.

Makuei also denies local media reports suggesting that President Salva Kiir has announced South Sudan would not cooperate with the U.N. following the resolution. He says the resolution will not do the implementation of last year’s peace accord signed between President Kiir and Riek Machar. The accord was aimed at resolving South Sudan’s recent conflict. Makuei says the situation in Juba is calm despite reports of ongoing clashes between the army and other armed groups

“The resolution has even thrown away the agreement. The resolution is not in conformity with the provisions of the agreement. So there are a lot of issues to be discussed here,” said Makuei.

“The situation in Juba is normal it is only those who send in this fictitious reports with the aim of interfering in the affairs of South Sudan that are rendering these reports …There has not been any fighting anywhere near Juba, but nevertheless there are certain individuals with their own ulterior objectives who keep on reporting that there is insecurity in Juba. And that there is insecurity at the airport at the time when the planes are landing at the airport, the busiest international airport, is Juba international airport.”

Source: Voice of America