Tuesday, January 01, 2019

African Union’s PSC Backs IGAD Force for South Sudan Despite UN Reluctance
African Union Peace and Security Council (file photo)

December 1 January 2018 (JUBA) - The African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) backed the deployment of an IGAD force within the UN Mission in South Sudan despite the growing UN reservations over the force and its role in the peace process.

Following the signing of the revitalized peace agreement last September, former UN Special Envoy for South Sudan Nicholas Haysom strongly supported the deployment of IGAD forces in South Sudan within the UNMISS saying only the region can fill the remaining security gaps in the deal.

However, UNMISS and UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) gradually developed a number of reservations saying its role should fit with the mandate of the UN mission and if it is about protection of civilians they have already the needed force.

"Additional tasks that UNMISS could be asked to perform to support the peace process should not be at the operational or political cost of performing its protection functions," said DPKO chief Jean Pierre Lacroix in a briefing to the Security Council on 18 December 2018, objecting tacitly to the IGAD decision to deploy troops in South Sudan during the transitional period to protect the opposition leaders in return for their acceptance of the immediate unification of troops during the transitional period.

The IGAD proposal to deploy some 1700 troops in South Sudan was discussed in a meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union held on 20 and 24 December 2018, said a statement released on 31 December by the regional body.

The statement expressed the PSC’s support to the deployment of the IGAD force in South Sudan within the Regional Protection Force (RPF), pointing that its part of their joint efforts to find a durable solution to the peace process and security challenges facing South Sudan.

The "Council expresses its full support to the decision by IGAD to request the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to review both, the composition and the mandate of the RPF for South Sudan (....)," said the PSC.

The statement further pointed to " the need to create conducive conditions for the effective implementation of the (revitalized peace) Agreement".

Also, the Council requested "the Chairperson of the Commission to transmit the Communiqué to the African Members of the UN Security Council (A3), as well as to inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations for their respective appropriate action".

The IGAD force will be composed of four hundred ninety-nine (499) each from Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan, and ninety-nine (99) each from Somalia and Djibouti.

During his briefing of 18 September, Haysom who is now the UN Special Envoy For Somalia told the Security Council that the IGAD force will perform a follow-up job stressing that there are a number of gaps and unfinished issues in the peace agreement especially with regard to the security arrangements.

He asserted that the parties may have a different understanding on how the unification of forces will take place. He added that no agreement on the number of cantonment sites, where it will be established or who will be responsible for sustaining them.

So, the deployment of IGAD forces from Sudan and Uganda and later on from Djibouti and Somalia was perceived as a treatment of the security gap in the peace agreement, he explained.

The South African diplomat pointed out to the scepticism of the Troika countries, which includes two permanent members of the Security Council the US and UK, adding they have shown no appetite to fund the peace process in South Sudan.

Nonetheless, he add that "Such an engagement would allow this Council to engage on the security architecture including the provision of specialist VIP personnel as well as the geography of disengagement which would provide a more conducive environment for a peacekeeping intervention".


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