The African Union says it is important to deploy the regional protection force for Juba in total coordination with the transitional government.
Last month, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of 4,000 troops to protect civilians using all necessary means and protect key installations such as the airport.
The transitional government gave consent to the deployment during a visit of a team from the Security Council to Juba early this month.
In a communique after a meeting in New York at the level of heads of state and government to discuss the situation in South Sudan, the AU Peace and Security Council says there should be coordination with a view of reaching consensus on the details.
These include the mandate of the force and areas of operation within principles of peacekeeping.
According to the Security Council resolution, the force is mandated to protect civilians, use military force against any group found to be organizing attacks on civilians or UN facilities and to protect installations such as the airport.
“[The Peace and Security Council of the AU] underlines the importance of deploying the RPF, pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 2304 (2016) of 12 August 2016, and in total coordination with TGoNU, with a view to reaching a consensus on all the details related to forming the RPF, as well as its deployment, mandate and areas of operation, within the framework of the ruling principles of peacekeeping, and enabling the RPF to fulfill its mandate,” it read in part.
The AU says the situation in South Sudan has serious implications for regional peace and stability and stresses that the only path to the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan is through political dialogue.
It “calls upon all the regional and international stakeholders to support the implementation of the ARCSS and to encourage all efforts to ensure peace in South Sudan, in support to TGoNU. Furthermore, Council underscores the importance of, also, addressing the economic and developmental dimensions of the conflict.”
It further reiterated the importance of taking advantage of all available African capabilities to address the situation in South Sudan and welcomes the readiness of Egypt to contribute troops to the force.
However, First Vice President Taban Deng Gai said in an interview to a new wire in the US, that the resolution to deploy the force was pre-empting the good work planned and prepared by the African Union.
“If we could veto it, we would have vetoed it because it was pre-empting the good work planned and prepared by the African Union,” Mr Taban said.
“They [AU] agreed on the principle of a protection force and they asked the government of South Sudan to go and discuss with their chief of staff in the region on the number of troops, the countries that will contribute these troops, and the mission of these troops. At the time we were discussing [this] the [Security Council] resolution was imposed on us,” Mr Taban said.
Mr Taban said the government now wants to avoid the negative effect of the arrival of this [UN] force.
This week, the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said South Sudan must demonstrate concrete progress towards the deployment of the protection force.
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