Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said military chiefs from Inter-government Authority on Development (IGAD) member states are finalizing preparations to deploy the third party force as soon as possible.
Desalegn who is also the chairperson of IGAD which midwifed the August 2015 Peace Agreement which brought calm after 20 months of civil war said there is need to exert concentrated collaboration among the various stakeholders in South Sudan for peace to prevail in the youngest nation.
The Ethiopian leader called on United Nations Security Council (UNSC), African Union (AU) and IGAD to exert collective efforts to bring durable peace in South Sudan and help out the war-torn east African nation conducts a national election scheduled for 2018.
He further noted that the conflict in South Sudan is a threat to peace and stability of the volatile East African region and further could create a safe haven for terrorist elements affiliated with al-Qaida.
Desalegn’s remarks came on a backdrop of UNSC delegation arrival in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
The high-level meeting comes only one day after South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir government finally accepted the deployment of a regional protection force, agreed by IGAD and authorized by the UNSC.
Juba’s decision was announced after the UNSC delegation held meeting with President Salva Kiir.
Following yesterday’s meeting South Sudan’s cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elias Lomoro read out the joint communiqué agreed by the Juba government and the UNSC in the capital, Juba.
“To improve the security situation, the Transitional Government of National Unity gave it consent to the deployment, as part of the UNMISS, of the regional protection force recently authorized by the United Nations Security Resolution 2304,” said Lomoro
The UNSC delegation came to Ethiopia to brief the IGAD chairperson about South Sudan’s decision on the deployment of the regional force and to discuss with the regional bloc on the steps that to be taken in this respect.
In Addis Ababa, members of the United Nations Security Council said they had fruitful discussion with Ethiopian premier on ways of deploying the regional protection force.
UNSC’s delegation head and New Zealand’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Phillip Taula told reporters that the delegation had good discussion with the South Sudanese government.
“Discussion about the role and purpose of the deployed force will be held with IGAD,” said Taula.
It is not yet clear if, former First Vice President and armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, would return to his home country once the regional force is deployed.
Machar had previously refused to return to South Sudan’s capital Juba unless a regional force is deployed.
Machar fled the capital Juba, some two month ago following fierce fighting between opposition and government forces in the capital which led to attempts to kill him.