Hundreds of South Sudanese have poured out on the streets in the capital Juba, protesting the deployment of foreign troops to their troubled country that flared last week as soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir battled those of Vice President Riek Machar.
The ‘No to military intervention in South Sudan’ follows proposal by the Africa Union and United Nations, to deploy a peacekeeping force composed of troops from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
Early last week President Kiir and his information minister denounced another proposal by the Inter-governmental Agency for Development (IGAD), to deploy foreign troops to their country, with Kiir saying: “as to whether I will accept the intervention forces from anywhere, No. There are over 12,000 foreign troops here in South Sudan. What do you need more forces for? What will they come and do? I will not allow any soldier”.
The IGAD proposal led to the sacking of the South Sudan Deputy Minister of Foreign affairs Cirino Hiteng and has also since put South Sudan on a collision path with Kenya, whose President Uhuru Kenyatta insisted that it is the role of.IGAD to prevent the escalation of violence in South Sudan.
In a related development, there are 12,000 UN peacekeepers in South Sudan and one of the opposition leaders, Lam Akol, has suggested that President Kiir hand over the security in the capital Juba to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), while another opposition politician, Pagan Amum suggested that the country be placed under an international trusteeship.
South Sudan becomes the second troubled East African Community member state to reject the deployment of international peacekeeping forces; in December 2015 Burundi resisted a decision by the AU to send 5,000 troops, after the eruption of violence that followed the disputed election of President Pierre Nkurunziza earlier in July.