East Africas IGAD seek special UN mandate to secure South Sudans capital

Published On : Wednesday, July 13 2016

East Africa's Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD, is seeking a revision of UN Peacekeeping force in South Sudan (UNMISS)'s mandate in an effort to set up an intervention brigade that will secure Juba, that country's capital.

Fighting between forces of President Salva Kiir and those loyal to vice president Riek Machar flared four days ago.

Reports from Juba say up to 270 South Sudanese have been killed in the fighting – risking a return to civil war and further instability in a volatile and poor region of Africa.

The East African bloc – Intergovernmental Authority on Development' (IGAD) council of ministers on Monday held an emergency meeting to address the renewed fighting in South Sudan.

In a communiqué on Tuesday, they demanded, apart from an immediate ceasefire, for urgent revision of the UNMISS's mandate "to establish an intervention brigade" in Juba.

The communiqué also urged United Nations to "increase the numbers of troops from the region" to secure Juba.

The meeting was attended by foreign ministers from Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti and Uganda, while South Sudan was represented by its deputy foreign minister, Mariam Ahmed Goumaneh.

They asked for an immediate re-opening of Juba International Airport and for it to be under the protection of UNMISS.

Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal last August, but then spent months wrangling over details.

Machar, who had left South Sudan, returned to Juba in April, at the time seen as step towards cementing peace.

But experts told Reuters that failure to swiftly implement key elements, such as the re-integration and demobilisation of combatants, has allowed tension to fester and risked igniting a new conflict.