6, September 2016
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has agreed to the deployment of 4,000 additional UN peacekeepers after initially rejecting the regional protection force as a breach of its sovereignty. Kiir made the announcement on Sunday following a meeting with the UN Security Council in the capital Juba.
“The transitional government of national unity gives its consent for the deployment of the regional force,” read a joint statement released by the UN and the government. Juba initially rejected the proposal, which was offered earlier in the month, stating that it lends the United Nations the ability to govern and “seriously undermines” South Sudan’s sovereignty.
South Sudan has witnessed a new wave of conflict since July 8, when gunfire erupted near the state house in Juba as Kiir and then Vice President Riek Machar were holding a meeting. More than 300 people were killed in the clashes. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011. It has gone through turmoil ever since.
The US envoy to the UNSC, Samantha Power, praised the additional deployment but noted that it was now time for action. “What we need to do now is move from those very important high-level commitments into working up the modalities in an operational way,” she said.
The conflict in South Sudan has exposed deep ethnic divisions. It erupted after a power struggle between President Kiir, a member of the Dinka ethnic group, and rebel leader Machar, a member of the Nuer ethnic group. “Fundamentally, it’s going to be the tribes themselves and the political leadership of this country that are going to have to come together,” added Power.