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UN head of S. Sudan denies she was pressured to quit

June 2, 2014 (JUBA) – The head of the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has refuted claims that her recent decision to leave the world’s youngest nation in July was allegedly due to pressure from government officials and individuals opposed to the world body’s mandate in the country.

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Hilde Johnson who head the UN mission in South Sudan addressing the press in Western Equatoria state April 17, 2012 (ST)

“This is my decision and I have to say it is very important to note one thing, and that if the hostility campaign against United Nations and against me personally had continued, what we saw in the past few months, then I would have clearly maintained and remained in my job in South Sudan”, Hilde Johnson told reporters on Monday.

“Because there is one thing I am not accepting it is to be pressured in a way that implies that people think they can push me out of the country”, she added.

Johnson made known her decision to depart from the conflict-ridden nation during a meeting with the South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir last week.

"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", said the UNMISS chief in 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.

NEW UNMISS MANDATE

Johnson’s surprise decision came just days after the UN Security Council (UNSC) extended UMISS mandate with focus on civilian protection, the need to address security and the humanitarian situation worsened by the political crisis in the country.

The UNSC also 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.

Relations between UNMISS and South Sudan government 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.

(ST)