South Sudan refuses deployment of regional protection force
South Sudan refuses UN-approved Regional Protection Forces deployment to capital's airport, reports said on Tuesday.
South Sudan and the United Nations mission in the country are at odds, the government saying the mandate giving the Regional Protection Forces (RPF) control of its main airport was a breach of national sovereignty.
The first batch of RPF troops arrived in the capital Juba two weeks ago.
In August 2016, the UN Security Council had approved a request formulated by the East African regional bloc and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), for the deployment of a 4,000-strong protection force to secure Juba and protect other key installations in the war-torn nation after the government and rebel forces resumed fighting in July 2016.
Mid last week and over the weekend, a standoff opposed government and UN forces after the contingent was deployed to the capital's airport without Juba's knowledge, according to a government spokesman.
Michael Makuei Lueth, minister of information, told Media (Monday) that the regional forces tried to illegally deploy at the airport without informing the relevant authorities.
Makuei said the government would not tolerate that the airport be under the control of any foreign force.
“How many times do we have to say that protecting the airport is a government responsibility and we cannot just hand it over, this is a matter of sovereignty, “ Makuei said.
David Shearer, the head of United Nations Missions in South Sudan (UNMISS) said placing the RPF base near Juba International Airport was part and parcel of their mandate according to the UN Security Council Resolution.
Shearer said the deployment of the troops would allow the mission to reorganize and put to proper use the troops.
South Sudan’s civil war has killed tens of thousands and displaced about 3 million civilians in less than four years when political disputes in the country’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) between President Salva Kiir and his dismissed deputy Riek Machar turned violent in December 2013.
Despite an August 2015 peace accord, heavy fighting erupted in Juba in July that year during which peacekeepers failed to protect civilians, according to a UN investigation.
In response, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of an additional 4,000 troops from East Africa with a stronger mandate than the 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission UNMISS already present.