UN authorizes force of 4,000 troops to South Sudan

Security Council to vote on deploying a 4,000-strong regional force to South Sudan despite opposition from the government in Juba

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The UN Security Council on Friday authorized the deployment of a robust force of 4,000 troops to South Sudan after heavy fighting set back efforts to end the country's devastating war.

The council adopted a US-drafted resolution that also threatened to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan if the government blocks the deployment.

Eleven countries in the 15-member council backed the new force. China, Russia, Egypt and Venezuela abstained from the vote.

The United States presented a draft resolution this week to the council on setting up the protection force to ensure security in the capital and deter attacks on UN bases.

Negotiations on the text continued Thursday with several council members including Russia, China and Egypt voicing concerns over deploying the 4,000 peacekeepers without the government’s consent.

Juba was rocked by several days of heavy fighting in early July between the government forces of President Salva Kiir and those loyal to ex-rebel chief Riek Machar, the latest flareup in two-and-a-half years of war.

After initially agreeing to the force during a summit of the East African bloc IGAD, South Sudan’s government on Wednesday said it now had reservations. Diplomats said the vote was scheduled for 10 am (1400 GMT), but may be delayed to allow for more time for negotiations.

During meetings this week, the draft text was amended to limit the mandate of the regional force to an initial period of four months and to specify that it will have a “clear exit strategy.” The proposed resolution threatens to impose an arms embargo if the government blocks deployment of the regional force.

African leaders last month asked the United Nations to authorize the regional force to shore up the peacekeeping force in South Sudan.

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