JUBA – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan said on Thursday that it will boost its peacekeepers without the consent of all the signatories to the revitalized peace agreement.
This is in a contradiction to a report last week attributed to UNMISS Chief David Shearer saying the world body was ready to deploy additional troops as requested by the opposition.
While briefing the international peace monitoring body (RJMEC) in Juba on Thursday, Shearer said the United Nations has the capability to increase its presence to support demilitarization and build confidence.
“But, any change in our deployment should come as a request agreed by all the parties,” he said.
According to Shearer, there have been recent requests for UN peacekeepers to be more active in patrolling towns during the roll-out of the newly trained unified forces.
“Already our peacekeepers have begun increasing patrolling to build confidence in places of return,” he said, adding “In past weeks peacekeepers were rapidly deployed to diminish violence in Maper and to establish two other temporary camps in Gumuruk and Koch”.
Shearer pointed out that ceasefire has had the greatest impact on the peace process so far, stressing that its maintenance is critical. “It has enabled at least 645,000 displaced people to return home. This includes many from UN Protection of Civilians sites,” he noted.
The senior UN official urged the international community to maintain the momentum that will avoid possible return to violence when a national unity government is eventually formed.
“The formation of a transitional government is not the end of its job. Maintaining momentum and meeting benchmarks is key to avoiding frustration and a possible return to violence,” Shearer said.
He added, “A lesson learnt from 2016 is the need for robust oversight by a high-level international body which will intervene to ensure progress is made on outstanding issues”.
The rival parties in South Sudan have twice failed to form the transitional government, first in May 2019 and then in November the same year, when they agreed to a 100-day-long extension to resolve outstanding issues and form a unity government by 22 February 2020.
Under the terms of the peace deal, the parties are to create a unified army to reduce the chances of fighting again and agree on the number of states and their boundaries.
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