'Regional protection force won't end S.Sudan crisis'
Foreign military policing alone will not solve South Sudan’s complex internal crisis, even if a regional protection force (RPF) helps contain insecurity and end the recurring fighting within the capital, Juba, a prominent South Sudanese political analyst told Anadolu Agency.

Dr. James Okuk said that in the long term, a regional protection force alone will not restore peace without addressing the underlying factors that lead to civil war; the people of the Horn of Africa country have to do that.

The UN Security Council in August approved an expanded mandate for its peacekeepers and added an additional 4,000 troops to its mission and increased the number of peacekeepers in the war-torn nation to 17,000, rebuffing government objections, in a bid to halt an all-out civil war.

South Sudan said its sovereignty would be ‘‘seriously undermined” if protection forces were put under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), but on Friday the government softened its stance and agreed to the force’s deployment of force after months of hesitation.

The projected presence of over 17,000 would make it possible to pacify the capital, Juba, but not the rest of the country, the analyst suggested.

"There are already over 12,000 UNMISS peacekeepers in the country and they are helpless,” Okuk said.

"UNMISS has not lived up to its mandate. The mission failed to protect civilians on several occasions, so how successful will that protection force be, how different will it be from the 12,000 UNMISS peacekeeping forces who are already in the country who are helpless even to do anything?” Okuk asked.

- Doubts and mistrust

Amer Manyok, a South Sudanese activist who is also a signatory to Addis Ababa peace process on the behalf of women bloc, said, "The most vital issue is the nature of the regional protection force’s relationship with the transitional government.”

"Doubts and mistrust have always been there between the government and the UN mission, and since UNMISS arrived in 2011 after independence, the authorities have challenged the mission in various ways including neutrality, because it wasn’t what they asked for,” she said.

Manyok added that the only hope of the regional protection force achieving its mandate will be if it has the active cooperation and support of both the transitional government and rebels.

Ellen Margrethe Loej, the outgoing UN special representative in South Sudan, said Monday she has still not received a formal statement that allows deployment of the regional protection force without conditions from the government.

"I hope to get a statement from the government in writing which I have been promised. So we at least will move to continue ahead with the plan for the arrival of the protection force in the hope that it can contribute to increasing the security for the people of Juba,” Loej told a farewell speech before concluding her tenure as head of UNMISS.

She said that the UN is frustrated with the government's ambivalent stance on the protection force, including an attempt to undercut it. "There have been restrictions not only on peacekeepers already in the country, but on the additional protection force.”

President Salva Kiir and ex-rebel leader Riek Machar formed a coalition government in April after tens of thousands of people were killed in fighting and 2.4 million people displaced since December 2013.

In July, fresh clashes erupted again, forcing Machar to flee the capital after hundreds died in the street battle, which the UN said involved targeted ethnic killings and rapes mostly by government soldiers.
Last Modified: 2016-11-29 10:31:08
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