September 4, 2016 (JUBA) –South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has eventually accepted the deployment of 4,000 soldiers authorized by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to boost implementation of what appears to be a shaky peace accord.
The decision was reached on Sunday during a meeting with the visiting UNSC team led by U.S permanent representative to the UN, Samantha Power.
South Sudan’s cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elias Lomoro read out the joint communique agreed by the Juba government and the UNSC in the capital, Juba.
“To improve the security situation, the Transitional Government of National Unity gave it consent to the deployment, as part of the UNMISS, of the regional protection force recently authorized by the United Nations Security Resolution 2304,” said Lomoro.
“Further, the United Nations Security Council agreed that the troops contributing countries, UNMISS and the Transitional Government of National Unity will continue to work through the modalities of deployment; building upon the consultations of August 25 and September 1 respectively and anticipating any further discussion that will follow,” he added.
The United Nations Security Council and the Transitional Government of National Unity agreed to work in a fresh spirit of cooperation to advance the interest of South Sudanese people, particularly the aspiration for justice, liberty and prosperity, stressed the communiqué.
The UNSC and government also agreed that “security and humanitarian needs were paramount.”
According to the communique, the government also “confirmed it commitment to the implementation of the peace agreement” and the reformed agenda therein “now that the Transitional National Legislative Assembly is in place.”
According the communique, the UNMISS will accorded unimpeded access and freedom of movement in the country.
“To this end, the Transitional Government of National Unity commits to devising a plan with UNMISS by the end of September 2016 on concert steps to remove impediments to UNMISS’s ability to implement its mandate,” Lomoro said.
Any bureaucratic processes that delay UNMISS access to different parts of the country to respond to protection of civilians such as requirement of written permission from the government will be removed.
Asked if the extra UN force, mandated to use “any means” force to ensure implementation of the peace agreement might be bias as earlier claimed by the government, US envoy Power said there is no question of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) impartiality.
“We on the UN Security Council have the utmost confidence in UNMISS’s impartiality, its independence,” said Power.
The government had, in the past, accused the UN forces of sympathising with the opposition.
Power said President Kiir assured the UNSC that his government will extend all support to the work of UNMISS.
President Kiir stood silently as his cabinet affairs minister read out the communique. Asked by a reporter if he support the communique, he responded that “the communique is very clear.”
The armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) of former first vice president Riek Machar is demanding the deployment of troops before Machar, who fled Juba in Juba, could return. He has since been replaced by the opposition chief negotiator, Taban Deng Gai.
The communique did not mention if Machar could return to Juba to take up his position or when the protection forces would be deployed.