Source: Sudan Tribune
South Sudanese opposition group of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-in-Opposition) led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar, have downplayed the announced deployment of 700 Chinese troops to South Sudan as part of the current peacekeeping forces under the command of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
South Sudan’s foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said about 700 Chinese troops will be deployed to South Sudan as part of the United Nations peace-keeping forces in the young fragile country.
“We will be happy to receive 700 combat troops from the People’s Republic of China as part of UNMISS,” Marial told reporters Friday.
“For the first time in their history China has never sent out combat forces. But for the first time, they are going out 700 combat troops as part of UNMISS in order to engage in enhancing peace in this country, protection of civilians, protection of important infrastructure and enhancing the peace process in as far as South Sudan is concern,” he said.
The rebel group said they would not object to the deployment if it will be strictly carried out under the current UNMISS mandate.
“If Chinese troops strictly deploy as part of the UNMISS under its mission and command, our leadership would not object to this,” Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune on Saturday when reached on phone.
Dak however said they would expect such troops from China to abide by the rules of the UN peacekeepers and not act independently.
He however criticised China for double standards, saying the communist nation should not finance the war and provide the government with weaponry in order to further execute the internal war while at the same time playing the card of a peace maker.
“China should stop financing the war and availing weaponry to Salva Kiir’s government if they are peace-makers,” he said.
Dak said the government has been looking for foreign armies and mercenaries to fight its imposed war on the people of South Sudan in an attempt to “save itself from collapse under the weight of the freedom fighters.”
Large quantities of Chinese weapons consigned destined to South Sudan were intercepted at Port Mombassa of Kenya in June, throwing in question roles the communist nation plays in the conflict.
The rebel leader’s spokesperson said his leadership was committed to the peace process in order to reach a political settlement to the crisis, but warned that all options are open should the government continue with its intransigence towards the peace process.