By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
September 7, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s Gajaak Nuer community on Tuesday welcomed the decision by President Salva Kiir’s government to accept the deployment of regional forces in a bid to restore peace and security in the war-torn East African nation.
- U.S. Ambassador Samanta Power speaks to the press following a closed door meeting with President Kiir, announcing an agreement on the deployement of protection force on 4 September 2016 (UNMISS Photo)
The South Sudanese government on Monday finally accepted the deployment of the strong 4,000 regional protection force, agreed by the East African regional bloc (IGAD) and authorized by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Juba’s decision was announced after the UNSC delegation held a meeting with President Kiir during a recent visit to the capital, Juba.
The South Sudanese government has unexpectedly set preconditions with regarding the deployment of regional forces less than 24 hours after reaching a consensus with members of the UNSC.
Juba insists that only one African country, preferably one that does not share with it a common border, be allowed to send troops.
The leader of the Gajaak community in Ethiopia, Kunen Nyak Bol, told Sudan Tribune that their community in Ethiopia and those exiled in the western world welcomed the approval of the regional forces.
He, however, said they want South Sudan’s former vice-president Riek Machar reinstated and recognized as a legitimate leader, if a durable peace is to be realized in the troubled East African nation.
“We are very much concerned as a community about the suffering of our people who have been residing in United Nations protection camps in Juba, Malakal and Jonglei states,” stressed Bol.
“These people choose to live in the UN protection camps because of fear,” he added.
A communiqué issued by the community condemned a move by some armed opposition members to succeed rebel leader Machar.
“We would like to assure the international community that these politicians will not bring any progress on peace agreement instead they will aggravate the crises that will possibly fuel the civilians’ bloodshed and suffering,” partly reads the communiqué.
The Gajaak Nuer community further urged the international community and IGAD-Plus to immediately deploy the third party force and reinstate Machar to that a peaceful transitional interim period is assured and national elections conducted as scheduled.
“This would stop the suffering of innocent citizens who fled war for other countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Gaak Nuer community strongly denounced the recent move by one of the armed opposition diplomats to join the President Kiir-led government saying it was an unwise decision.
David Dang, who had been serving as the deputy representative of the SPLM-IO mission office in Ethiopia said he had resigned from his position, arguing that Machar had failed the opposition movement.
"Machar has no vision, he is running the SPLM-IO like his own property, and as a result I am no longer supporter of Dr. Riek Machar," Dang told Sudan Tribune last week.
The Gajaak Nuer community said they were strongly dismayed by Dang’s statement, which described Machar as man with no vision.
“This is an insane statement that we didn’t expect from David Dang whose relatives or friends were murdered by Juba regime in 2013,” Bol told Sudan Tribune.
“We would further like to inform the public that some of you have been questioning Machar’s health. We are happy to announce to you that Machar is healthy and highly committed to bring peace to our young nation as our conversation with him today after our resolution,” he added.
Meanwhile, armed opposition officials in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune that Machar, currently in Khartoum, would soon be relocated to the Horn of Africa nation.