South Sudan

Will Salva Kiir Allow UN-backed force in South Sudan?

US Ambassador Samantha Power speaks in South Sudan on 4 September 2016

The United Nations Security Council has wrapped up a three-day visit to South Sudan by reaffirming its support for peace in South Sudan and reiterated its calls to the government to fulfill commitments announced in a joint communique.

“The fact that we are getting on the UN plane and going home, about it does not mean that we are going to forget about them,” United States Ambassador Samantha Power, the co-lead of the Council delegation, said at the conclusion of the visit on Monday.

Ms Power added that “what no one can endure is the legacy of having seen this beautiful newest country of the UN torn apart.”

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The visit followed the Council’s recent renewal of the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which included the approval of a 4,000-strong regional protection force to aid with security in the capital, Juba.

It also came before the UN Secretary-General has to provide his first report on the progress achieved in implementing the new mandate.

In early July, close to the fifth anniversary of the country’s independence, the youngest nation was plunged into fresh violence due to clashes between rival forces – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), loyal to President Salva Kiir, and the SPLA in Opposition, backing former First Vice-President Riek Machar. That led to deaths and injuries; including those of several UNMISS peacekeepers, also undermining the implementation of the peace agreement between the political rivals in August 2015, which formally ended their differences.

Ms Power said that some good commitments came out of the trip, with the Transitional Government of National Unity announcing its acceptance to the deployment of the regional protection force.


However, South Sudan officials later said they did not ‘accept’ the deployment of the force but gave ‘consent’ pending talks with regional powers.

The proposed regional Protection Force will report to the overall UNMISS Force Commander and “be based in Juba, with the responsibility of providing a secure environment in and around Juba.”

The UN Council, which raised the mission’s troop ceiling form 12,000 to 17,000, also stressed that UNMISS’s mandate includes authority “to use all necessary means to protect United Nations personnel, installations and equipment to deter violence, especially through proactive deployment and active patrolling, to protect civilians from threats, regardless of source.”

President Salva Kiir has previously expressed skepticism over the proposed deployment, saying the state’s armed forces can guarantee peace and security.

A joint communique issued on Sunday indicates that the government is committed to remove impediments to the ability of UNMISS to implement its mandate.

This would include reviewing procedures related to movement of UNMISS and streamlining bureaucratic processes.

She noted that the call for peace must be felt in the hearts of the leadership.

Ms. Power, however, cautioned that these commitments will be measured by the extent to which South Sudanese people feel safer than they are now.

The delegation held a series of high-level meetings with President Kiir and other Transitional Government members, civil society groups, faith-based organization and senior UN officials.

The Council member states represented in the delegation include Angola, China, Egypt, France, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Senegal, Spain, Ukraine, United States, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela.


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