UN extends mandate of South Sudan peacekeeping mission

Friday December 16 2016

Peacekeeping troops from Ethiopia deployed in the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei patrol outside Abyei town in Abyei state on December 14, 2016. PHOTO | ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN | AFP

Peacekeeping troops from Ethiopia deployed in the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei patrol outside Abyei town in Abyei state on December 14, 2016. PHOTO | ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN | AFP 

By AFP
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NEW YORK CITY, Friday

The UN Security Council extended for one day the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan to allow more time for negotiations on measures to bolster its mandate.

Talks on a US-drafted text have been bogged down for nearly a week over provisions on sanctions, the deployment of drones and UN support for a war crimes court set up by the African Union.

The mandate of United Nations Mission in South Sudan expired on Thursday, forcing the council to take action to keep peace operations running.

The council in August adopted a resolution to bolster the peacekeeping mission with a 4,000-strong regional force but Russia, China, Egypt and Venezuela abstained, citing concerns over South Sudan’s sovereignty.

A Security Council diplomat said the latest US-drafted measure was opposed by Russia, China, Venezuela and more importantly, the three African countries on the council: Angola, Senegal and Egypt.

“If no agreement is reached, the Unmiss mandate is likely to be extended for a month to allow for more time for negotiations,” said Spanish Deputy ambassador Juan Manuel Gonzalez de Linares.

Spain holds the presidency of the Security Council this month.

Russian ambassador Petr Iliichev cited concerns in the draft resolution on tighter provisions for sanctions and the use of drones “which the Juba Government does not support”.

HYBRID COURT

He also rejected a proposal to request reports on the establishment of the AU hybrid court, saying “the UN has nothing to do” with the proposed war crimes tribunal.

The UN has 14,000 peacekeepers serving in South Sudan, where a brutal war has been raging since December 2013.

“We are working towards the strongest mandate renewal possible to give Unmiss the tools it needs to carry out its mission,” said a US official, speaking on background.

The struggling talks on the draft resolution came as the US, Britain and France continued to face opposition at the council from Russia and China on imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan.

Angola’s Ambassador Ismail Gaspar Martins said the council must adopt measures to engage with South Sudan’s leadership to try to end the war, signalling his opposition to sanctions.

“We cannot repeat the resolution that was adopted some time ago,” he said. “It has to be something that takes account of the situation and gets people in South Sudan engaged in working on a plan which brings about a more peaceful situation.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month warned that South Sudan faced a real risk of atrocities.