South Sudan Government Toughens On UN, Relief Agencies

Michael Makuei, South Sudan's Information Minister says all UN and humanitarian agency vehicles will have to be searched. [Gurtong file]

This follows the recent seizure of UN arms and amuntions in Rumbek en route to Bentiu, the capital of Unity state.

The UN Mission in South Sudan’s (UNMISS) policy during the crisis is to fly its peacekeeping weaponry. The transportation of 12 trucks of weapons lebelled as general goods has raised a lot of eye brows from the government circles.

UNMISS has however  repeatedly said it was a regretable lebeling error. The Mission says the weapons were not destined to the rebels but belong to the newly deployed Ghanaian peacekeeping battalion.  A high level UN investigation team is in the country to investigate into the matter.

However, the Juba government is not taking any chances.”We made it clear that no UN, UNMISS vehicle or whatever humanitarian relief item moving in any direction will move without being checked,”  Michael Makeui, the government spokesperson told the press in Juba on Friday after the Council of Ministers’ meeting.

“We cannot allow food relief to move to our people at the expense of our own security. Our security is paramount and therefore any car moving to any direction  must be searched.”

Makuei said anybody who does not want to be searched will have to decide if they live or leave the country.

All loadiing of relief items will have to be witnessed by government security agencies according to the new Council resultion.

The Council also agreed  that an African peacekeeping force from the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries; Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti and Rwanda should be deployed to Ssouth Sudan to replace the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF).

“As you know, there has been  a  lot of pressure on the government of South Sudan on the issue of the Ugandan forces. It is agreed that UPDF should be replaced by African peacekeeping force,” said Makuei.

The  peacekeeping force will be mandated to protect the oil installations and facilities.

According to Makuei, the Council also discussed the demand for the release of the remaining four political detainees whose trial started on Tuesday.

The release of the four detainees and withdrawal of UPDF have been key demands of the anti-government forces since the crisis broke out in mid-December 2013.

It’s however not clear when the African peacekeeping forces will be deployed to South Sudan to replace the UPDF.

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