August 23, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan president has ordered the army and security organs not to cooperate with the regional protection forces’ command, saying their actions could undermine the nation’s sovereignty.
“Whatever they want to do must be subjected to scrutiny. I know you will face challenge. They protest and some people will try to sabotage your work but you must know not all you do gets support from all the people. But what is important is that we must do what know is right for our people”, Kiir told a security meeting on Wednesday.
According to the South Sudanese leader, the United Nations-mandated regional forces were permitted into the country with the understanding that they would play a role in providing escort and securing major supplying roads to and from Juba, especially those which have experienced disruptive armed and banditry activities.
“You have to tell [them] where to go and what to do, not them telling you where they want to go and what to do. That is not what they [regional troops] came here for. They came to complement your work and so it is you whom they want to assist who should tell them where you need to go and what to do there”, stressed Kiir.
The South Sudan leader denied ordering the expulsion of the regional forces from the war-torn nation, but emphasized that their deployment had to be approved by the government and should be complementing the efforts of the government in the young nation.
President Kiir had earlier also warned that the South Sudan’s national unity government would reconsider its decision on the deployment of regional forces mandated by the UN Security Council (UNSC).
“They [regional protection forces] have come and the way they have started is already becoming a matter of concern. They want to deploy at the airport. They also want whatever they bring into the country not to be checked,” the president said Sunday.
In August 2016, the UN Security Council, following a request by the East African regional bloc (IGAD), approved the deployment of a 4,000-strong protection force to secure Juba in the aftermath of renewed clashes that occurred in the South Sudan capital in July.
South Sudan’s Transitional Government of National Unity confirmed its unconditional consent to the deployment of the regional forces in a communiqué to the UN Security Council on November 30, 2016.
It remains unclear what prompted the South Sudan leader to make such warnings, barely a month after the first batch of the regional protection forces arrived in the country.
Despite the August 2015 peace agreement, South Sudan slipped back into conflict due to renewed clashes between rival forces – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Kiir and the armed opposition backing former First Vice-President Riek Machar.