UN chief welcomes South Sudan okay to regional force

UN chief welcomes South Sudan okay to regional force

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed a decision by South Sudan’s government to accept the deployment of a regional protection force to help quell the ongoing violence in the country.

The agreement was reached at a summit meeting of the leaders of the eight-nation bloc of East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Ethiopia on Friday night.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson on Sunday, Ban called on all South Sudanese parties to uphold their responsibility to protect civilians and to demonstrate their commitment to a peace agreement.

The decision by IGAD, which has been working along with the wider African Union (AU) to address the crisis, came after deadly clashes erupted between rival forces.

Troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those following former vice president Riek Machar clashed in and around the capital Juba last month, leaving more than 300 people dead.

Rwandan peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) stand guard inside their compound in Juba, July 20, 2016. ©Reuters

President Kiir recently replaced Machar with a former peace negotiator, General Taban Deng Gai.

Gai, who leads a faction of Machar’s party, was named vice president by Kiir after being fired as a minister by his own party leader.

Machar, a former rebel leader, was sworn in as first vice president in April, eight months after the peace agreement was signed between the government and rebels loyal to him.

However, Machar left Juba with his troops earlier this month after fresh fighting erupted between his loyalists and government forces. He has said he would only return if an international peacekeeping force guaranteed his safety.

According to the head of the IGAD Mahboub Maalim, Gai has agreed to step down if Machar returns to Juba.

Despite the August 2015 peace deal, battles persist across South Sudan where numerous militia forces do not abide by peace agreements and are driven by local agendas.

Source: Press TV