May 28, 2014 (JUBA) – The long-awaited deployment of the protection and deterrent forces from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries to South Sudan is expected to take place within next month, a member of the mediating team disclosed on Wednesday.
- IGAD mediators and South Sudan negotiating teams at the sigining of the ceasefire agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 23, 2014 (IGAD/CEWARN Photo)
“Before end of June I am quite sure the forces will be distributed in the whole of the South Sudan,” Mohamed Ahmed Mustefa, a Sudananese envoy currently part of the IGAD-led peace talks told reporters in the South Sudanese capital, Juba.
Leaders from the East African regional bloc, he said, are in Juba to consult with the government ahead of the next round of talks between the two warring parties.
The next phase of the mediation process will commence on 4 June.
In March, the IGAD member states resolved to deploy to South Sudan unknown numbers of forces from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi to protect the oilfields and other vital installations which President Salva Kiir’s government may fail to protect.
Mustefa, however, said the Sudanese army will not be part of the joint IGAD force.
“Sudan is only participating with the MVTs [Monitoring and Verification Teams] and with the joint technical commission here. Sudan has no any forces coming. Only number of retired officers supporting IGAD in areas where there is difficulties; a few of them – less than 15", said the envoy.
Mustefa further said IGAD was effectively monitoring the ceasefire without the force.
“We will try our utmost efforts to bring the forces here", he said, adding, “We will try our utmost efforts to bring the forces here".
President Kiir has called for the immediate approval and deployment of a regional deterrence and protection force to end ongoing violations of the cessation hostilities agreement signed with his former deputy-turned rebel leader, Riek Machar.
However, the country’s opposition forces led by Machar have already questioned the IGAD-member state’s decision and intention to deploy additional troops to the war-torn region, arguing that the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has a force of over 12,000 personnel mandated to protect the civilians.
South Sudan is embroiled in armed conflict since mid-December with thousands of people killed and over a million displaced both within and into neighbouring countries.
A cessation of hostilities agreement signed on 23 January and recommitted to on 9 May has largely failed to halt fighting between the two warring sides, with each accusing the other of violating of the agreed ceasefire.