May 30, 2014 (JUBA) – Hilde Frafjord Johnson, the head of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has officially announced she is leaving the new nation in July this year.
- The head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Hilde Johnson (Photo: Getty Images)
The special representative of the secretary-general disclosed this at a meeting with president Salva Kiir on Friday.
"I informed the president that by Independence Day in July, I will have completed my three years as special representative, which is much more than usual for an SRSG in a peacekeeping mission of this nature, and in particular also with the crisis that we’ve gone through", Johnson said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
"I informed the president that I have come to the end of my term and I will be departing South Sudan", she further added.
Johnson’s surprise decision comes just days after the UN Security Council (UNSC) extended its South Sudan mission mandate with focus on civilian protection, the need to address security and the humanitarian situation worsened by the political crisis in the young nation.
The UNSC, in a resolution issued onTuesday, extended the mission’s mandate until 30 November 2014, and authorised it to use “all necessary means” to protect civilians, monitor and investigate human rights, create the conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance, and support the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement.
The UNMISS boss, however, said she discussed with president Kiir the mission’s new mandate passed by the Security Council on Tuesday, while informing the South Sudanese leader about UNSC members’ decision to pass the course for the resolution.
Members of the UNSC, Johnson stressed, consulted and informed the South Sudan’s foreign affairs ministry on several occasions prior to the resolution issued this week.
"I also used the opportunity to reflect with the president that this is a new mandate, it is different from the one that was decided when I came in as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), which was in 2011", Johnson said.
"It is different and will imply changes also for the mission", she added.
Relations between the South Sudan government and UNMISS have been increasingly fraught in recent months, with president Kiir accusing the world body of seeking to take over the young country, although he later softened his stance.
Edmund Yakani, a South Sudanese activist, described Johnson’s decision to leave South Sudan as "inappropriate" following secretary-general Ban Ki Moon’s recent visit to the new nation.
"It will be better if she was officially replaced by UNSC leadership", Yakani told Sudan Tribune.
"Hilde [Johnson’s] decision to leave [in July] will have bad impact on South Sudan since she was much connected to South Sudanese since the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] process. Furthermore, her decision could cause friction between the government and the UN especially among communities", he added.
Meanwhile, UNMISS will remain with the 12,500 troops and 1,323 police forces approved by the UNSC in December last year when violence broke out in Juba following disputes among the presidential guards, according to its newly renewed mandate.
WHO IS HILDE F. JOHNSON?
Born on 29 August 1963 in Arusha, Tanganyika, Johnson is a former minister of international development of Norway, and member of the Norwegian government. As minister, Johnson played a pivotal role in the peace process in Sudan, leading to the completion of the CPA between government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement in 2005.
She has reportedly been engaged in peace building efforts and post crisis-transition processes in relation to a number of countries in Africa, Asia and Central America.
Johnson also served as deputy executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from 2007-2011, prior to her appointment as the special representative of the secretary-general to South Sudan.