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S. Sudanese rally in protest against regional troops

July 20, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese took to the street to protest against the planned deployment of additional foreign troops to back the fighting and protection capacity of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which has a 12,000-strong force.

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A demonstration in Juba in support of South Sudan government (ST/FILE)

The protest, organized by the country’s ruling party (SPLM) secretariat, saw hundreds march through Juba streets to UNMISS base next to Juba airport.

They also marched to the African Union office and the American Embassy where they presented their memos. They carried placards with writings against foreign military intervention in Juba.

The presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny said any foreign troop coming to the country without government’s approval would not be accepted, claiming it would be seen as an “invasion force”.

“The approval of extra foreign troops by the African Union, in conjunction with IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] to be deployed in South Sudan is exceedingly impinging on our sovereignty - and therefore is not acceptable comes what”, Ateny said in a statement.

“Any foreign troops coming to South Sudan without government approval will not be welcomed, but seen as an invading force”, he added.

Ateny blamed IGAD, which mediated the peace to end more than 21 months conflict in the country, for failing to devise better conflict resolution mechanisms by accepting two armed forces in the deal.

“The failure of IGAD and AU to device better conflict- resolution mechanism in South Sudan is to blame. The intelligent behind the creation of two armies instead of amalgamation of forces under one command after pre-interim period is the cause of mess. It is not how many foreign soldiers that would solve the problem,” stressed Ateny.

“But, South Sudanese can better forge their own political rapprochement”, he added.

But while government opposes the deployment of the additional foreign troops from countries bordering the young nation, activists and peace advocates say such a stance was a demonstration of commitment to derail the peace accord by anti-peace elements.

A similar demonstration also took place in Bor, the Jonglei state capital, where defense minister Kuol Manyang, and his information and broadcasting counterpart, Michael Makuei Lueth hail from. The two powerful ministers are close allies of President Salva Kiir and were among those ostensibly opposed to the establishment of cantonment sites for the country’s armed opposition (SPLM-IO) forces.

There have, however, been no confirmed reports of preparations for organized demonstrations to be carried out in none ethnic Dinka inhabited states and counties in the country. Wednesday’s demonstration in Juba was carried out largely by members of ethnic Dinka because the town is shared by the state and the central government.

(ST)