South Sudan on Wednesday accused the UN and U.S. of plotting to put the government under UN trusteeship by revising the mandate of the protection force agreed upon recently by regional countries.
The government said last week it would allow a deployment of African troops to Juba, after fighting between President Salva Kiir’s forces and fighters loyal to his rival, former vice president Riek Machar, killed dozens of people and drove tens of thousands from the capital last month.
But on Wednesday, Information Minister Michael Makuei said the force should be independent rather than under U.N. command. He said U.S. moves to impel the government to accept such a force smacked of imperialism.
Government spokesman Michael Makuei alleged existence of a scheme by Washington to put the war-torn, oil-rich impoverished country under UN trusteeship, citing the Aug. 7 draft on renewal of the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
“Unfortunately the U.S. draft decided to put this protection force under UNMISS again, even though we had agreed that as government we would agree on contributing countries, armaments, mandate and funding,” Makuei told journalists in Juba.
His remarks came after Washington last week proposed extension of the UNMISS mandate until Dec. 15, deployment of more 4,000 strong troops to beef up the 12,000 UNMISS force on ground and arms embargo targeting both parties to the conflict.
Initially the Aug. 5, a communique from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) despite calling for deployment of the regional protection force under command of UNMISS force commander, also notes that the composition, mandate, armament, deployment and funding shall be done in consultation with the transitional unity government (TGoNU).
“This communique is supposed to pass through AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) The chairperson of the AUPSC did not make any submission but instead it was picked at higher level by strong people there who decided to proceed with it,” Makuei said.
“And as a result because they want the republic of South Sudan to be brought to its knees, the U.S. decided to come up with the zero draft on the mandate of the UNMISS in South Sudan,” he said.
The government spokesman disclosed that the U.S. picked up the idea of the protection force and decided to give it the mandate of an intervention force.
“In other words this protection force has come to take over Juba against the position of IGAD-plus,” he said. Makuei added they have rejected this proposal by the Americans.
“Nobody has a right to take away our sovereignty. If it is to be imposed then that will be a different language all together. Our members of the region and those who have been pressing for this intervention should know that South Sudan is not an exception and only country in crisis right now in the region,” he said.
The protection force must come in according to provisions in the IGAD communique, he revealed.
“Those neighboring countries who accept to be used by others to serve their objective should know, today could be the day of South Sudan but let them get prepared for the next. Ultimately that will not be the end of the game if South Sudan is turned into a UN protectorate. It will begin with South Sudan but it will end with all of us,” he added.
Makuei, also criticized the former detainees (FDs), the group led by self-exiled former Secretary General of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Pagan Amum who is advocating for the country to be put under UN administration.
The UN trusteeship proposal gained currency in the wake of the recent July violent fighting in the capital Juba, between rebel troops Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) led by ousted first vice president Riek Machar and troops loyal to President Salva Kiir.
Machar fled the capital with his rebel troops and has since been replaced by his former chief negotiator Taban Deng Gai by a breakaway faction within his party loyal to the latter.
The protection force is to protect internally displaced persons, Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC)-peace monitors and humanitarian agencies.
SPLA-IO had advocated for an intervention force to separate the two rival armies when Machar returned to the capital.
“South Sudanese who have decided to make themselves stateless these are the good boys (FDs) who will be brought here when that time comes. To our surprise these are the very people for whom the Americans had written reports charging them of corruption and when President Salva were removed them they moved fast to blame president Salva,” he said.