UN Divided Over South Sudan Mission Renewal

Peacekeeper troops from Ethiopia and deployed in the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) patrol outside Abyei town, in Abyei state, on December 14, 2016.
Peacekeeper troops from Ethiopia and deployed in the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) patrol outside Abyei town, in Abyei state, on December 14, 2016. By ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN (AFP/File)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The United States on Thursday was locked in difficult negotiations on South Sudan, with African countries, Russia and China balking at a draft resolution on the UN peacekeeping mission's mandate in the war-torn country, diplomats said.

The struggling talks on the proposed measure came as the United States, Britain and France continued to face opposition at the Security Council from Russia and China on imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan.

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

A draft resolution circulated by the United States last Friday called for extending the mandate of the UNMISS peacekeeping mission until December 2017.

But disagreements over a sanctions threat and the proposed establishment of a war crimes court under the auspices of the African Union prompted a first delay in the adoption on Tuesday and the United States revised its draft.

With differences remaining, the council was considering a vote later Thursday to roll over the UNMISS mandate for a short period to allow for more time for negotiations. The mission's mandate expires on Thursday.

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, signaling his opposition to sanctions.

"We cannot repeat the same resolution that was adopted some time ago," he told AFP.

"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 in the country."

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

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month warned that South Sudan faces a "very real risk of mass atrocities" and that peacekeepers would be powerless to stop such a bloodbath.

The peacekeepers have come under heavy criticism for failing to protect civilians, including women who were raped by government soldiers during heavy fighting in July, not far from the gates of a UN compound in Juba.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 2.5 million.

Source: AFP
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