S. Sudan denies killing peacekeeper, says UNISFA exceeded mandate

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Ethiopian peacekeepers in Abyei (UNISFA photo)

October 18, 2021 (JUBA)- South Sudan on Monday denied killing a peacekeeper during a protest which demanded the relocation of the United Nations Interim Force for Abyei (UNISFA) from one of its team sites in Northern Bahr El Ghazal state.

In a statement, Northern Bahr el Ghazal governor, Tong Akeen Ngor expressed dismay after the UN Security Council requested the country’s authorities to honor their obligation and respect the mandate of the peace keeping force in Abyei.

He instead said that the peacekeepers overstepped their mandate in the area.

“What happened is this, and this is the true story. UNISFA has the mandate to monitor and verify the activities of the two armies at Kiir Adem. Unfortunately, it did not do so. It decided to operate in Gok Machar, the Aweil North county headquarters and there the GPS [Global Positioning System] started to read and show Gok Machar as part of Eastern Darfur,” explained Ngor.

He added, “This angered the local communities who went out to demonstrate. They asked UNISFA to adjust the reading of its GPS so that the reading shows it is in the territory of South Sudan. They [UNISFA] did not want to do it. This agitated the communities and it dragged on until it went out of their hands”.

The governor said the demonstration was peaceful and peacekeeper was killed.

He dismissed reports that supplies for peacekeepers were blocked, stressing that delivery trucks food, fuel and other items to the area move without interruption.

Last week, the UN Security Council raised concerns over the operating conditions of peacekeeping forces in the disputed region of Abyei.

In a press release extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday, the Security Council members expressed grave concerns over recent developments in Gok Machar, including threats to the safety and security of peacekeepers which resulted in the death of a peacekeeper from Ethiopia on September 14, 2021.

The Security Council members reiterated their full support for the UN peacekeeping force in Abyei and expressed their continued concern that the full implementation of UNISFA’s mandate is being obstructed.

The members urged South Sudan government to facilitate the unimpeded implementation of UNISFA’s mandate and provide full support to UNISFA’s personnel by removing any obstacles that hinder UNISFA’s work to protect civilians, including by ensuring the mission’s freedom of movement and by facilitating UNISFA’s provision of food, medicine, among others to its personnel.

The council members underscored the important role of UNISFA and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) in support of achieving peace, security and stability in Abyei and the broader region, and urged the government of South Sudan to intensify its mediation efforts with members of the local community in Gok Machar to reduce tensions and to provide for the redeployment of UNISFA personnel to team sites 11 and 12.

Meanwhile, the members of the Security Council welcomed the continued cooperation between the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan, which is critical for the peace, security, and stability in Abyei and the broader region.

The further called on Sudan and South Sudan to convene a meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism to address the existing challenges and facilitate the work of the JBVMM.

UNISFA was established in 2011 by the UN Security Council to monitor Abyei border. It is mainly composed of Ethiopian forces of around 4,200 troops and 50 police personnel.

(ST)

Source: sudantribune