South Sudan

Juba demands clear mandate of Igad peace force


South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir with a delegation from the United Nations Security Council, including US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (right) during a tour of South Sudan’s state house on September 4. [PHOTO: AFP] 

South Sudan has rejected plans to have a regional peace keeping force that would include Kenyan military. Chief of General Staff General Paul Malong said in Juba the proposed force lacks a clear mandate as calm has been restored in the young nation.

United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that anticipates a 4,000-strong force that would be contributed from neighbours to help in easing political tensions. “We do not know what their mandate here would be,” said Gen Malong, adding that there were no command structures either.

His sentiment mirrors the thinking of the broader Juba leadership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and its boss, President Salva Kiir. “I do not see the need even though we agree on principle about the wider need for stability,” said the general, a trusted close ally of Mr Kiir.

The position effectively locks out any real prospects for the proposed force, weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Juba to help in calming a political conflict that peaked with the attack of the presidential palace on July 8.

Among the concerns expressed about the proposed force was whether it would be impartial, considering that the different countries have peculiar interests in the oil-rich nation.

General Malong said his nation would not want to appear as holding a view that is not shared with the rest of the world, but acknowledged that Juba did not have any input in arriving at the decision at the first instance.

At least 300 soldiers allied to rebel and former first Vice President Riek Machar were killed in a fierce gunfight outside the palace, sending shock waves of a full-blown civil war.

Hundreds of Kenyans and other foreign nationals were evacuated following the one-day battle, although most of them are now said to have returned, specifically to Juba.

President Kenyatta asked his South Sudan counterpart to take steps to restore peace, starting off with the full implementation of an accord signed several years ago.

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