The South Sudanese government is opposed to the deployment of further peacekeepers in the country as there are already 13,000 UN troops on the ground, an official has told IBTimes UK. Sabit A Alley, South Sudanese ambassador to the UK, made the comments as thousands took part in a government-sponsored protest organised by civil society organisations against the African Union (AU)-approved plan to deploy more peacekeepers.
"It is not just the government which is opposed to the proposition to bring more troops to the country but the SPLM-IO [Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition ] is also opposed to the whole idea," Alley said.
"The chief negotiator of the SPLM-IO made a public statement to that effect yesterday. Bringing in more troops will not add value to the work of the peace keepers who are already [here]. As was stated by the SPLM-IO yesterday, the people of South Sudan do not want their country to be meddled with by foreign troops as has been the case with Libya, Somalia and Iraq," he continued.
"What South Sudan needs now is practical support in order to implement the terms of the Peace Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan."
Fears of a new civil war
The decision to deploy more Unmiss (United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan) troops came days after recent fighting between warring sides left at least 300 people dead in the capital Juba, sparking fears that the country could plunge back into civil war.
Ethnic-related violence then spread, with militia groups carrying out attacks in villages and areas known to be inhabited by either the Dinka or Nuer tribes.
August 2015 peace deal: the key points
- Both parties commit to immediate cessation of violence
- Machar to be reinstated as vice president
- Foreign troops to be withdrawn
- Military personnel in Juba to be replaced by police and guards
- Creation of transitional government that will stay in power for 30 months
- Presidential elections to be held 30 days before end of transitional government mandate
- Probe into abuses committed during conflict
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More than 10,000 civilians have so far been killed in the conflict, amid allegations of crimes against humanity committed by both sides, including extrajudicial killings, abductions, rape, torture and use of child soldiers. At least two million people have also been displaced.
Although the warring factions have signed at least seven peace deals, violence has continued, and a January report from the African Union blamed both leaders for the ongoing unrest.
Earlier in July, at least 300 people were killed and thousands displaced in and around Juba during clashes between warring factions. The government announced a unilateral ceasefire, and both Kiir and Machar ordered government and rebel forces to cease hostilities.
The latest outbreak of violence occurred as the country, the world's newest nation, marked its fifth year of independence from Sudan on 9 July 2016. Machar's return to South Sudan and his reinstatement as vice president in April had restored hopes for the implementation of a peace process signed in August 2015. However, tensions have been running high since Machar's return.