(dpa/NAN) South Sudan’s transitional government has accepted the deployment of an additional 4,000 UN peacekeepers following three days of negotiations with diplomats from the United Nations over the security situation in the country.
Martin Lomoro, South Sudan’s Minister of Cabinet Affairs, said this on Monday in Juba at a press conference.
He briefed on the commitments made by South Sudan’s transitional government during the talks involving President Salva Kiir and UN diplomats who arrived on Friday.
Lomoro reiterated government commitment to guaranteeing the free movement of the UN troops and to support the soldiers in their role to protect the civilian population.
The minister explained that distribution of humanitarian aid would also be supported by the transitional government under the agreement.
Lomoro said the UN Security Council and the South Sudanese government agreed to work “in a fresh spirit of cooperation to advance the interest of South Sudanese people, particularly their aspiration for justice, liberty and prosperity.”
He said the parties agreed that the humanitarian and security needs of the people were “paramount.”
The government in Juba previously had spoken out against the decision to send additional peacekeepers.
The UN Security Council subsequently threatened to impose sanctions and a weapons embargo against the country, where about 13,500 UN peacekeepers currently are deployed.
Meanwhile, Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, had said earlier during the visit that the UN diplomats were in Juba to clarify what the additional peacekeepers would do.
The Security Council had earlier criticized the “obstruction” of UN peacekeeping and humanitarian work in South Sudan.
Power said that the UN operation had “an impartial mandate” to protect all civilians.
She said that the number one obstacle to the peacekeeping and humanitarian officials fulfilling their mandate up has been the severe restrictions on their movement.
“We are very encouraged that President Kiir was very clear in the meeting that that’s not his intention that he has asked that UN peacekeepers be granted free movement.
“He added that humanitarian actors will be able to provide relief to those in need, no matter where they are, no matter where they come from,’’ she said.
Power added that the next step following the high-level commitments achieved during the talks was to work out how to see them through.
Tens of thousands in South Sudan have been killed and more than 2 million displaced since December 2013, when a power struggle between Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar evolved into a military conflict.
In July violence erupted again in Juba between Kiir’s forces and supporters of Machar, killing 300 people in a matter of days.
Both sides to the conflict have been accused of obstructing peacekeeping operations, while the peacekeepers have been accused of not doing enough to protect civilians from attacks and abuse