Peacekeeping Cannot Solve South Sudan Crisis- Oketta

1585 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Maj. Gen Julius Oketta, the former director of National Emergency Coordination and Operations, in the Office of the Prime Minister says that the deployment of peacekeepers will only stop direct confrontation between warring factions but cannot address the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.

The deployment of a peacekeeping mission may not end conflict in South Sudan, Major General Julius Oketta, a senior commander in the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) has said.

Oketta, the former director of National Emergency Coordination and Operations, in the Office of the Prime Minister says that the deployment of peacekeepers will only stop direct confrontation between warring factions but cannot address the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.

He says the conflicts in Juba are sparked off by tribalism and copious military groups under different commands adding that South Sudan built its army and Government on tribalism which will take more than deployment of peacekeepers to resolve.

His comments come just days after the United States suggested that the United Nations Security Council authorizes a force of 4,000 peacekeepers for South Sudan's capital Juba. The draft seeks to approve a regional protection force "to use all necessary means, including undertaking robust and active steps and engaging in direct operations where necessary," to secure the South Sudan.

Last week, South Sudan's government also agreed to allow the deployment of a protection force drawn from countries within the great lakes region.  The protection force would be part of the UN mission in South Sudan-UNMISS.

But Oketta says that the deployment of a buffer force by the African Union and the United Nations is only a temporal measure to protect civilians and bring some understanding to the warring parties. He says the triggers of the conflict can only be overcome by a change in the people's mindset.
 
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Maj. Gen Julius Oketta advises that South Sudan should be helped to find local solutions to the problem adding that nobody knows the problem more than the nationals.
 
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In a recent interview with Uganda Radio Network, Prof. Mahmood Mamdani, the Director Makerere Institute of Social Research-MISR proposed a caretaker government by the African Union to avert the south Sudan crisis. He says for peace to return, South Sudan needs a political process that can only be facilitated by an independent party.

Philip Kasaija Apuuli, an associate professor at Makerere University's Department of Political Science says that to end the crisis in South Sudan, there should be leverage in form of a third force to keep the warring parties in order. He says this will enable them to be accountable to the world.

The latest wave of violence erupted in Juba a month ago, between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to the then First Vice President Riek Machar sparking fears for a possible return to civil war in the world's youngest nation.

Over 300 people lost their lives and over 1.6 million were displaced, 600,000 of them, in Uganda.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein says most crimes, at the height of the violence, were carried out by Dinka troops, loyal to President Kiir, against the Nuer ethnic group, which Machar belongs to.

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.