July 19, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —- African leaders have backed plans to deploy regional troops to South Sudan after recent fighting between rival forces left hundreds of people dead.
Soldiers for the African Union (AU) force are to come from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda.
A 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force is already in the country, but the AU force would have a stronger mandate, officials say.
South Sudan’s government says it is opposed the deployment of the force.
“We are not ready for a deployment of even a single additional soldier,” South Sudan’s Information Minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme. “That does not solve the problem.”
President Salva Kiir and his rival, Vice-President Riek Machar, announced a ceasefire last week.
Clashes over several days between troops loyal to the two men had threatened a recent peace deal.
“The UN doesn’t have the mandate to impose peace,” the AFP news agency quoted AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui as saying at the AU summit in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.
“They are there where there is peace to keep. African troops are ready to engage in very difficult situations.”
He explained that the mission would be similar to the deployment of a 3,000-strong special force that took on the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2013.
Over the weekend, UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed his support for the AU deployment.
But Mr Lueth blamed the recent fighting on the peace deal which, he said, was imposed on the country by regional mediators.
“As a sovereign state… this thing cannot be imposed on us without our consent,” he said, adding that it would not “serve the interests of the people of South Sudan”.