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African Union approves regional force for South Sudan

July 19, 2016 (KIGALI) - African leaders at a summit in Kigali, Rwanda have backed the deployment of regional troops to South Sudan after recent clashes between the country’s main rival factions left hundreds dead and displaced over 40,000 civilians.

UNMISS troops from India patrol the perimeters of a compound in South Sudan’s capital, Juba (AP)

The African Union’s extraordinary summit resolved that soldiers for the continental force will come from Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Already a 12,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force is already in South Sudan, but it is understood that approved regional troops would play much bigger roles.

President Salva Kiir made it clear his government would not accept the deployment of additional forces in the world’s youngest nation.

“No. We will not accept even a single soldier," stressed the president.

"There are over 12,000 foreign troops here in South Sudan," he added, in reference to peacekeepers working for the UN mission.

The South Sudanese leader questioned the necessity of sending additional troops.
"What do you need more forces for? What will they come and do? The UNMISS here has so many foreign troops. So we will not accept even a single soldier. We will not accept that," Kiir added.

The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers met in Kenya and Monday and resolved that there was need for extra troops to back the UN mission in the young nation. This also followed a request by UN Security Council to peacekeepers contributing nations to prepare their troops for possible deployment in South Sudan in order to avert a possible outbreak of violence in the conflict-hit nation.

Last week, fighting broke out in Juba between forces loyal to President Kiir and the armed opposition faction led by first vice President Machar, resulting into death of hundreds of soldiers and civilians and forced Machar out of Juba after his base was overrun.

A unilateral ceasefire declared by both leaders on Tuesday last week has since held.

(ST)