First vice president Taban Deng has dismissed the need for peacekeepers in the country, insisting Thursday that peace has been achieved.
Taban Deng said South Sudan does not need the 13,000 U.N. peacekeepers already in this country. He said a new Security Council resolution that called for 4,000 more peacekeepers “didn’t take into consideration our concerns as a nation.”
“We already have 13,000 U.N. troops in South Sudan who are sitting idle, not doing anything because there’s a problem with their mandate, and there’s also a problem with how they were selected,” Deng said in an interview with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
He added that South Sudan isn’t “a dumping place” for peacekeepers “who can’t really help.”
“I don’t think South Sudan needs peacekeeping,” Deng said, insisting that it “isn’t a failed nation.”
U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous disagreed with Deng’s assessment, pointing out that the government has made contradictory statements since the government signed a joint statement with the Security Council endorsing the additional troops.
“We don’t have a clear situation but I can tell you we are sparing no effort to move toward generating a force because the Security Council has made it very clear that we should do so,” he said.
“My country is peaceful, there is peace in South Sudan,” Deng also declared, asking international donors to help it out with relief measures and nation-building initiatives.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described a starkly different scenario earlier this week at a high-level U.N. meeting on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan.
“For years, South Sudan has struggled to gain its independence. Now it’s struggling for survival,” Ban said. “Rarely have such high hopes been squandered so quickly.”
President Salva Kiir appointed Taban Deng in July to replace Riek Machar, who was fired in a controversial decision and fled north to Sudan.
Deng said Machar is welcome to return to South Sudan. “He’s South Sudanese, he can decide to come to Juba anytime,” referring to South Sudan’s capital.