Addis Ababa, July 19, 2016 (FBC) – 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 stronger mandate, officials said.
South Sudan’s president has been reluctant to allow in foreign troops.
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 quotes 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.