JUBA – A South Sudan activist is warning against any attempt to withdraw Ethiopian peacekeepers from the disputed region of Abyei, saying it would undermine protection of civilians in one of the unsafe areas in the country.
Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) raised the alert following media reports about the on-going discussion by the Ethiopian government to withdraw its peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei.
“Any attempt by the Ethiopian government to recall its troops that are peacekeepers in South Sudan under the mandate of UNMISS OR UNIFA will really undermine the protection of civilians, and peace keeping mission under the United Nations chart,” Yakani said during a press conference held in the organization’s premises in Juba on Wednesday.
Edmund advised the government of national unity not to take side either with the Federal government of Ethiopia or Tigray militia.
Edmund appealed to the government of Ethiopia to protect the former chief mediator of South Sudan’ peace talks, Seyuom Mesfin who is currently under detention.
“Whatever is happening concerning Seyuom Mesfin, I hope that the rights and protection of Syuom Mesfin is taken into account because he is somebody remarkable for the peace process in South Sudan,” Yakani told reporters.
“We know he has played a big role in making the agreement to be revitalized, if it wasn’t him, we could not have reached the agreement between the warring parties by then. So whatever that government is doing with him, we want due legal process to be taken,” he added.
The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei is composed of 4250 Ethiopian troops, including civilian police.