African Union to deploy troops to South Sudan
Troops from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda are to be deployed to the country, according to Smail Chergui, the AU’s peace and security commissioner.
The announcement comes in response to a request from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which on Sunday issued a joint call for “the deployment of a regional protection force to separate the warring parties, protect major installations, the civilian population and pacification of Juba.”
The new AU force will be similar in size to the 3,000-strong contingent that was sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo to fight M23 rebels in 2013, according to Chergui.
Intense fighting broke out between forces loyal to President Salvar Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar on 7 July, leaving at least 272 people dead.
The United Nations (UN) has already deployed 12,000 peacekeepers to the country, but “the UN doesn’t have the mandate to impose peace,” Chergui told AFP at an annual summit in Kigali.
“They are there where there is peace to keep,” he said, referring to UN peacekeepers. “African troops are ready to engage in very difficult situations.”
Hopes that an arms embargo might be imposed on the country were hit on Monday when Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said that he opposed a ban.
“When you impose an [arms] embargo on South Sudan you destroy the local force on which you need to build a strong integrated army,” Museveni said in a statement.
South Sudan’s media crackdown continued over the weekend as Alfred Taban, editor of local newspaper Juba Monitor, was detained after publishing stories critical of the country’s leaders.