South Sudan will not allow the participation of troops from countries outside the region in the regional protection force, the Presidential Security Advisor, Tut Kew Gatluak, has said.
Gatluak was responding to remarks by the outgoing head of UN. peacekeeping operations Hervé Ladsous, who told reporters in Juba last Tuesday that the additional 4000 peacekeepers, some from outside the region, would be deployed within weeks.
According to Ladsous, the force would include troops from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nepal, Bangladesh, among others. But he didn’t mention Kenya.
But on Sunday Gatluak said that it would not make sense to accept the deployment of troops from countries outside the region as part of the protection force.
“The protection force was agreed to come from countries in the region and even if they come from countries in the region, they must be countries which do not have a direct interest in this country. So our brothers from Sudan and Uganda decided to not contribute because there are certain things which can make them bias(ed) in the protection force,” said the presidential advisor.
Gatluk added that the members of the government have to go over which countries would participate and what their motives would be.
“As the government we have accepted, we are aware certain countries will participate in the regional protection force. We will need a full briefing about the circumstances of their participation,” he said.
The presidential aide also maintained the position of the government to reject the inclusion of the airport and other key installations to the mandate of the protection force, saying the government was capable of providing protection to the airport as well as other key infrastructures in the country.
“There is no question about the airport; the position of the government has already been made clear. The airport will not be under the control of any foreign force, it is not going to happen. The government has the capability to provide protection,” stressed Gatluak.
The official went on to say that regional protection was to play a supplementary role to the national army and other security fractions, not to take complete responsibility from the army.
“Which countries in this world have their airports handed over to a foreign force? Tell me, which country in the world has ever given such a sovereign responsibility,” asked Gatluak when asked about the position of the government on the inclusion of Juba International airport to the mandate of the regional protection force.