Army Chiefs of Defence Forces from regional countries recently converged in the South Sudan capital Juba to forge away forward as war threatens to return to the youngest state.
According to a confidential memo from Bilpham, the SPLA general headquarters, the Chiefs of Defence Forces of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda undertook a visit to juba on July 15, 2016.
This followed an earlier meeting in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa days after a shootout claimed over 300 soldiers at President Salva Kiir’s presidential palace.
In Juba, the chiefs met the SPLA Chief of Staff Gen Paul Malng and the leadership of South Sudan.
Top on the agenda was to have both SPLA and opposition forces re-located far away from the capital and intervention for a neutral force from the region under the United Nations to protect Juba.
There was also a recommendation to have UNMISS mandate upgraded from civilian protection to a fighting intervention forced and strict observance pf a ceasefire.
The meeting took place at Juba Crown Hotel in which the chiefs convinced Malong to remove SPLA from Juba and accept troops to South Sudan from IGAD countries.
President Yoweri Museveni while meeting his South Sudanese counterpart, President Salva Kiir, at State House Entebbe urged him not to reject deployment of additional regional third party force in Juba, but to instead focus on negotiating the level of their mandate as they deploy in the country.
Museveni said failure to comply with the African Union’s endorsed deployment of the troops to Juba will complicate the matter and result to further tougher measures which can be taken against the country and its leadership, cautioning President Kiir not to fall into “traps of western countries.”
President Museveni said he made the remarks during their discussions on regional peace and security, particularly the proposed deployment of additional foreign troops in South Sudan.
This came after President Kiir vowed to not allow even a “single foreign soldier” to deploy in South Sudan in his reaction to the AU’s resolution to deploy a third party force to separate rival forces loyal to President Kiir and those loyal to his first deputy, Riek Machar.
The force would also provide protection to the South Sudanese leadership, essential government infrastructures including the Juba airport as well as citizens at risk of violence in the capital.
Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda are some among the countries in the region backing up the decision of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries and African Union (AU), asking countries in the region to contribute and dispatch additional troops with a stronger mandate to protect civilians at risk or exposed to an extreme violence and to act as buffer for rival armed groups in the country.