Rebels strongly reject the action
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Heads of States Thursday agreed to deploy troops into South Sudan to help enforce a ceasefire deal between government and rebel forces.
“These troops are envisaged to be on the ground by no later than mid-April,” Seyoum Mesfin, the chief mediator, said at the conclusion of the 25th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the IGAD Heads of State.
Seyoum said the summit has called on the African Union and United Nations Security Council to support the deployment of ‘a protection and deterrence force’ in South Sudan. The chief mediator said IGAD Heads of State have strongly urged the two factions to demonstrate their commitment to ending the war.
However the leader of the South Sudan rebels, Riek Machar, has strongly rejected the proposed deployments of regional forces by IGAD, and is warning he will boycott the ongoing peace talks in Addis Ababa, unless the decision is reversed.
Machar condemned the proposed deployments of such forces, warning that it will widen and regionalize the current violent conflict which began as an internal misunderstanding in the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
“This is an unfortunate decision by IGAD to interfere in the internal conflict. We reject it and condemn it in the strongest terms. It is an attempt to regionalize the internal conflict,” he said to news outlets on Friday by phone from one of his bases in Upper Nile State. The former vice president, turned rebel leader, said the decision questioned the neutrality of the IGAD member states in the conflict.
“If IGAD member states who mediate the peace talks want to interfere militarily in the conflict, we may rethink our participation in the talks,” he warned.
Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda will contribute troops while Djibouti is also expected to join a force that will seek logistical support from the African Union and the United Nations Security Council.
The Summit was carried under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and was attended by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni President of the Republic of Uganda, Omar Hassan Al- Bashir, President of the Republic of the Sudan; Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti; Salva Kiir Mayardit President of the Republic of South Sudan, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya and Abdiweli Sheik Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Somalia.