International Press: AUG/14/2016, SSN;
Regardless of the Kiir government’s latest rejection, the UN has approved the deployment of 4,000 foreign troops to South Sudan. Presidential Spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny, told the media that the government of President Salva Kiir on whose behalf he spoke, will not cooperate with the United Nations approved force “because we will not allow our country to be taken over by U.N. Any force that will be called Juba Protection Force will not be accepted.
Ateny made the remarks after the government convened a cabinet meeting at which it was resolved to send a letter rejecting a proposal authorizing deployment of protection force from the region under the united nations mission in South Sudan.
The letter prepared by the minister of cabinet affairs, Martin Elia Lomuro and approved by president Kiir likened the deployment of 4,000 foreign troops to “invasion and interference in the internal affairs”.
Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda are expected to contribute the bulk of the troops who will be authorised to use “all necessary means — including undertaking robust action — to fulfill their mandate”.
The force would ensure security in Juba and at the airport and “promptly and effectively engage any actor that is credibly found to be preparing or engaging in attacks”.
The council would consider imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan if UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reports that there are impediments to the deployment.
Ban will deliver a report to the council in 30 days and a vote on the embargo could take place in five days if he finds that the government is uncooperative.
South Sudan’s war has raged for two and half years, fuelled by growing stockpiles of weapons.
Britain voiced disappointment that the embargo was not imposed immediately with deputy ambassador Peter Wilson telling the council: “We must and we will return to this issue.”
The vote followed a week of tough negotiations, with China, Russia and Egypt voicing concerns over deploying UN peacekeepers without the government’s full consent.
South Sudan’s ambassador said his government rejected the resolution, telling the council that details of the deployment — including timing and the weapons the troops would be allowed to carry — must be negotiated with Juba.
“Consent of South Sudan would have been important as it would have given the force the necessary freedom to carry out the outlined mandate tasks,” said Akuei Bona Malwal.
Uganda, an ally of President Kiir, said it would not contribute troops to the force, even as the UNHCR reported that 110,000 South Sudanese had crossed into Uganda, by latest reports.
“No one thinks this regional force will be a cure-all to the instability and the violence that exists there,” US deputy ambassador David Pressman told reporters. Sudan also declined to join this regional force.
The United Nations Security Council took vigorous action on Friday to greatly strengthen a peacekeeping force in South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, ravaged by civil war and suffering for nearly three years. The South Sudanese government immediately vowed not to cooperate.
A resolution, passed by an 11-to-0 vote with four abstentions, basically gives the United Nations far more authority in South Sudan, backed by thousands of additional troops and lethal force if needed, to protect civilians and pressure armed antagonists in the conflict — including government soldiers. It also threatens to impose an arms embargo on the country.
The Security Council’s approval came as the mandate of the current peacekeeping operation, known as the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, or Unmiss, was about to expire. Unmiss has not been effective, as a peace agreement has been repeatedly ignored.
The resolution, sponsored by the United States, represents an unusually robust action by the Council, invoking its rarely used coercive power to militarily intervene when international peace and security are considered to be threatened.
David Pressman, an American ambassador at the United Nations who attended the vote, criticized the South Sudanese government for what he described as actions that had crippled Unmiss’s ability to operate.
“Until the leaders of South Sudan are willing to put what is good for their people before themselves — putting peace ahead of personal ambition and power — and until they show the will to find a political solution to this grinding conflict, the people of South Sudan will continue to suffer from the bloodshed and instability their leaders wreak,” Mr. Pressman said after the resolution was approved.
South Sudan’s government opposed the strengthened peacekeeping mission, raising the possibility of clashes between the country’s armed forces and foreign soldiers deployed there by the United Nations.
Under the resolution, the United Nations’ mission will be extended for at least three months, and a new 4,000-soldier “regional protection force” will be deployed in Juba, the capital, and other strategic locations, including the airport.
The new force represents an increase of over 30 percent in armed personnel for the United Nations mission of 12,000 troops, which has been unable to stop episodic bouts of killing and abuses, including widespread rape, by both government forces and rebel factions.
United Nations soldiers and aid workers have been repeatedly harassed and attacked, and in some cases killed. Thousands of South Sudanese civilians, fearing for their lives, have been living in United Nations sites in Juba and other locations.
The resolution specifies that the new force, which diplomats said would mostly be drawn from neighboring countries, will be authorized to “promptly and effectively engage any actor that is credibly found to be preparing attacks, or engages in attacks, against United Nations protection of civilians sites, other United Nations premises, United Nations personnel, international and national humanitarian actors, or civilians.”
The resolution does not impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, some member states and outside advocates, including international rights groups, had wanted.
But in what was intended as a coercive step, the resolution allows an arms embargo to be imposed if the government does not cooperate.
The resolution’s failure to achieve a unanimous approval of the 15-member Security Council partly reflected the difficulties it has often faced in deciding on any action involving the use of military force.
Russia, China, Egypt and Venezuela, the Council members that abstained, had criticized some provisions in the resolution. Russia and China in particular have been reluctant to take actions that they view as incursions on another country’s sovereignty.
Still, the Russians and Chinese did not feel strongly enough to exercise their veto power, which both have as permanent Security Council members.
South Sudan’s promise as a newly independent state in 2011 devolved into civil war two years later, and has left tens of thousands dead and more than 2.3 million people displaced.
Soldiers loyal to President Kiir — who belongs to the Dinka ethnic group, South Sudan’s largest — battled troops led by Riek Machar of the Nuer ethnic group, which is believed to be the second largest.
Troops on both sides committed human rights abuses against civilians on a devastating scale, United Nations human rights officials and other groups have found.
A peace deal officially ended the fighting last year. Mr. Machar, who had served as vice president before he was dismissed in 2013, agreed to become Mr. Kiir’s deputy again and returned to Juba in April.
But fighting broke out again between the two sides on July 7, killing hundreds. Mr. Machar’s residence was destroyed and he fled the capital. He has refused to return to Juba until more international troops are deployed.
Last week, an investigation by the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, placed most of the blame for the violence, which it said included mass rapes, on Mr. Kiir’s forces. Mr. Hussein said that while some civilians were killed in the crossfire, others were summarily executed by government forces who appear to have singled out members of the Nuer, an ethnic group loyal to Mr. Machar. The investigation also found that these same forces committed most of the 217 cases of sexual violence, many involving minors.
The resolution also calls for an arms embargo, but only if the government does not cooperate with the expanded peacekeeping force. The Security Council has threatened several times in the last 18 months to block arms shipments without making good on the threat.
And the Obama administration, apparently fearful of losing leverage with Mr. Kiir, has refused to cut off the arms flow. While such a ban would affect both sides, experts believe it would have more impact on the government, the only side with heavy weapons, including helicopter gunships from Ukraine.
Severing that supply chain, as well as the trade in tanks and artillery, could actually get Mr. Kiir’s attention.