Sudan’s deputy ambassador in South Sudan says the proposed East African IGAD force in South Sudan will protect only ceasefire monitors and has no other purpose, suggesting that the force would not be involved in defending oil fields as was earlier reported.
In an interview with Radio Tamazuj today, Ambassador Magdi Ahmed Mofadal reiterated the Sudanese government’s opposition to the presence of East African forces in oil fields in South Sudan and called for the withdrawal of Ugandan troops.
Though Khartoum benefits from South Sudan’s export of oil through Sudanese pipelines, the Sudanese government nonetheless appears opposed to the presence of East African forces at the strategic fields.
Last March the heads of state of the nations forming the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), of which Sudan is a part, issued a communiqué calling for deployment of troops to protect ceasefire monitors and “other infrastructures” in South Sudan.
The communiqué “authorizes the prompt deployment of a Protection and Deterrent Force (PDF) from the region with a clear mandate and operational guidelines as part of the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism in South Sudan.”
It further added that the Protection and Deterrent Force (PDF) would form part of the monitoring mission and would protect the ceasefire monitors themselves as well as “other infrastructures in South Sudan.”
After issuance of the communiqué South Sudanese rebels threatened to attack the force if deployed to oil fields and said the deployment of such a force would call into question IGAD’s neutrality as mediators.
Mofadal today noted that the Sudanese government supported the summit decision authorizing the force but disclosed that a decision has since been made to change the name of the force: “Now, the force is going to be called 'IGAD Protection Force’ – it’s not going to be 'deterrence force.’”
“The main aim of these protection forces, they are going to protect the IGAD monitors,” he explained, noting some of these monitors have already been deployed to Malakal, Bor, Bentiu and Juba.
Mofadal explained, “This protection force is going to protect only the monitors; it has nothing to do with other functions or whatever you may have heard or read or see in the media. The only function of these IGAD forces are to protect IGAD monitors.”
For the complete article, please see Radio Tamazuj.