Home | News    Saturday 18 July 2015

South Sudan overturns expulsion of top UN official in Unity state

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July 17, 2015 (JUBA) - South Sudanese minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, has confirmed on Saturday that the national government had overturned the decision of Unity state government whose cabinet last week passed a resolution expelling the head of the United Nations mission in the area.

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A view of the Protection of Civilians (POC) site near Bentiu, in Unity State, South Sudan (Photo UN/JC McIlwaine)

The decision by the oil-rich state government to expel the UN leader in the state was made in protest her report on atrocities committed by president Salva Kiir’s government in the area.

But Marial asserted that expulsion of foreign officials and members of the diplomatic institutions as well as representatives of the key international organizations, including the United Nations was the competence of the local government.

“That issue has been resolved and the person you are now asking is already in Unity state. I am told she has gone to Unity state,” he said on Saturday.

Marial however told Sudan Tribune that the ministry was not trying to undermine the authority of the state government, saying that the latter did not follow administrative channels as well as coordinating with the relevant institutions at the higher level of the national government.

“As a ministry, we work with all the institutions of the government at all levels, whether at the state or at the national government levels,” he said.

He said his work was to coordinate will the concerned institutions and this was what we expected to do be done,” said minister Benjamin, sidestepping a question asking whether the state government did not communicate the decision before taking action.

Meanwhile the deputy special representative of the secretary general of the United Nations for political affairs, Moustapha Soumare, confirmed the revocation of the expulsion and the affected official had returned to Unity state after high level contacts were made with both state and the national government.

“I want to say that the decision has been revoked. The State Coordinator, Mary Cummins, is now in Unity State. I really want to thank the Government at the national level with whom we have had long engagement to discuss the issue,” Soumare said.

“So I can reassure you, the State Coordinator is fine, she is in her position in Unity and we wish her all the best as well as a good working relationship with the state authorities,” Soumare told reporters at press briefing on Thursday in Juba.

(ST)

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