April 3, 2014 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese official has accused western diplomats of interfering in the country’s internal matters contrary to the globally-accepted diplomatic practices.
- South Sudan’s deputy minister for foreign affairs Bashir Gbandi (thenile)
Bashir Gbandi, the deputy foreign affair minister told reporters on Wednesday that they needed clarification from western envoys regarding last week’s statement they issued condemning what they described as South Sudan government’s “obstruction” of United Nations operations.
“We are astonished to read such a statement which contains condemnations of the government (…) in public media without knowledge of the ministry of foreign affairs,” said Gbandi.
A number of diplomats were also paraded before reporters during the press conference, also attended by Charles Manyang, the foreign affairs undersecretary.
Last week, western diplomats from the U.S, France, Netherlands, UK, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Canada and the European Union (EU), “strongly condemned the continued obstruction of UNMISS operations by government and oppositions forces and threats to personnel.”
Minister Gbandi, however, said the envoys’ statement and channels chosen to disseminate it was “a negative trend in diplomatic relations and a grave violation of diplomatic practice and rules”.
“We [South Sudan] consider this [press statement by western diplomats] as a serious interference in internal affairs of the country,” he remarked.
“A diplomatic mission is required to carry out all its functions in accordance to international law and also in accordance with the laws and regulations of the receiving state,” added the deputy minister, quoting Article 41 (1) of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relation.
He challenged western diplomats to clarify on issues they regarded as an obstruction of the UN operations or violation of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
“We [South Sudan)] therefore need some clarification on issues of condemnation of the government and examples of where the government has been continuing obstruction UNMISS operation, violation of Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA),” stressed Gbandi.
The ministry’s undersecretary, during the press briefing, also outlined areas where government has reportedly granted unrestricted access for the UN World Food Programme to deliver foods to displaced person in mostly rebel-controlled areas.
“The areas include Akobo, Lankien, Ayod, Nyal and Ganyiel among others,” said Manyang.
Sven Kuhn Burgsdorff, the head of EU delegation in the country, told reporters at the press briefing that he “appreciates the frankness and honesty of the discussion.”
“We underline of course that it remain a right of diplomatic missions to issue a press statement as we have done in the first,” added the envoy.
South Sudan recently stepped up search for UN vehicles moving throughout the country following last month’s seizure of weapon in their convoys declared as “general goods.”
The UNMISS admitted it was an “error” and instituted an investigation into the matter.