South Sudan agrees to extra UN troops to avoid arms embargo

The leader of the world's youngest nation met with ambassadors of the UN Security Council to accept 4,000 additional peacekeepers to the region to avoid arms embargo.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

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

The government of South Sudan agreed on Sunday to accept 4,000 extra peacekeepers in a bid to avoid an arms embargo threatened by the United Nations Security Council, but said the details of the deployment were still being discussed.

The announcement came after a meeting in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, between President Salva Kiir and the UN Security Council, led by US Ambassador Samantha Power.

The 15-member council last month authorized the deployment of a 4,000-strong regional protection force as part of the UN peacekeeping mission already on the ground, known as UNMISS. It threatened to consider an arms embargo if Kiir's government did not cooperate.

"To improve the security situation the Transitional Government of National Unity gave its consent to the deployment, as part of UNMISS, of the regional protection force," the SouthSudanese government and the Security Council said in a joint communique.

UNMISS has faced considerable criticism over its failure to protect civilians during the July violence, which included the rape of civilians sheltered just outside its camps.

Kiir had opposed the deployment of additional troops, initially touted as an "intervention force", as breaching national sovereignty.

Minister Lomoro also underscored that the government committed "to permit free movement to UNMISS in conformity with its mandate" and "improve humanitarian access, including by providing assistance by eliminating illegal check points."

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa in this May 9, 2014 file photo.

Political rivalry between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar led a civil war in 2013, but although the sides signed a peace deal a year ago, fighting has not stopped. During the fighting in July, Machar, who had been persuaded to return to Juba to join a national unity government agreed under a peace deal, fled the country and is now in Khartoum, having been replaced by Taban Deng Gai in Juba.

The 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force (UNMISS) has been on the ground since South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

TRTWorld and agencies