The United States is calling for speedy deployment of peacekeeping troops in South Sudan as authorized by the United Nations Security Council, according to the New York Times.
Speaking in Kenya yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said, “There is absolutely no question that we need to move forward with the deployment of the regional protection force authorized by the UN Security Council.”
He added that deployment of security forces is long overdue and termed the ongoing conflict in the world’s youngest nation as tragic and reprehensible.
Kerry was speaking to journalists in Nairobi where he had a meeting with five foreign ministers from the East African region.
Kerry’s visit to Kenya yesterday was termed as a “peace mission.” He discussed various security matters concerning the region, including terror threats posed by Somali Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab.
Speaking at the conference, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Amina Mohammed said the deployment of peace troops in South Sudan should be done “sooner rather than later.”
Last week, the United Nations Security Council approved the deployment of 4,000 security troops in South Sudan to join another 12,000 troops already deployed in the country as part of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Mohammed said the deployment should be done immediately to ensure peacekeepers reach Juba quickly.
“Any number of soldiers that goes in in the name of a protection force would be welcome and would open the door to everything else,” she noted.
Unwelcoming South Sudan
Also present was South Sudan’s Vice-president Taban Deng Gai, who expressed his government’s reservations over the deployment of more troops, saying there is need for further discussions on the matter.
“We want to know the mandate of this protection force. We want to sit with them in Juba, not New York,” Taban said.
Secretary of State Kerry contested claims that Dr. Riek Machar’s ouster from the vice-presidency – and Gai’s subsequent appointment to replace him – have undermined the August 2015 peace agreement.
“Legally, under the agreement, there is an allowance for the replacement of personnel and that has been effected with the appointment of a new vice-president,” Mr. Kerry said.
The current fighting in South Sudan broke out in July this year after rebels allied to the ousted Machar clashed with government forces in Juba.
So far, hundreds of people have been reported dead, most of whom are soldiers from both sides of the conflict.