Kenyan parliament debates deployment of troops in South Sudan

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The Kenyan national assembly will debate a motion seeking approval to deploy Kenya Defence Forces in South Sudan, in line with the UN’s request.

The Kenyan national assembly will debate a motion seeking approval to deploy Kenya Defence Forces in South Sudan, in line with the UN’s request.

Majority Leader Aden Duale moved the motion which he termed a "matter of urgency" as per the UN’s request. Last week, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of a 4,000-strong protection force in South Sudan's capital, Juba, as part of the UN peacekeeping mission and threatened an arms embargo if the government does not cooperate.

The motion will be debated in Kenya’s national assembly next week. This is happening at a time when South Sudan's sacked Vice-President Riek Machar is said to be in injured in Congo.

Reuters has reported that Machar initially fled the capital, Juba, during the violence in July, demanding a neutral force to be deployed to keep peace and guarantee his safety.
The fighting that started in July comes less than a year after a peace deal was signed to form a unity government and end the civil war. Hundreds of people have since died, after Machar’s and President Salva Kiir's guards fought each other, sparking an orgy of violence.
More than 100,000 people are said to have fled across the border. Last week, it was reported that rampaging soldiers assaulted and raped women.

Last week, South Sudan’s newly appointed first vice president Taban Deng Gai accused Machar of stalling a peace agreement aimed at ending violence in the country.

Gai claimed Machar ran "a parallel government in Juba" before he fled following violence that rocked the capital in July.
He said the government and rebel armies will be merged by May next year.

He said this while on a visit to Kenya. He met with President Uhuru Kenyatta and briefed him on the progress of the peace agreement and also sought assistance for rebuilding South Sudan.

Meanwhile, two international human rights organizations have said the renewed violence in the country underscores the urgency of bringing to account those responsible for crimes under international law committed during South Sudan’s armed conflict.

Amnesty International and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) issued a statement a year on since the signing of the faltering peace agreement. The peace accord was signed on 17 August 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian. It required the African Union (AU) to set up a hybrid court for South Sudan to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of committing genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity since the conflict began in December 2013.
“Last month’s return to violence underscores the need to seek accountability for the horrendous crimes committed and should bolster, not undermine, the pursuit of justice,” said Elizabeth Deng, Amnesty International’s South Sudan Researcher.

 “The African Union must stop dragging its feet and take concrete steps to set up the court, including by immediately collecting and preserving evidence before it is lost and witnesses’ memories of events fade,” she said.

Since the agreement was signed, the AU and South Sudanese authorities have made little progress in setting up the court. In the meantime, hostilities have continued and recently escalated, further worsening the human rights situation for millions of South Sudanese people.  

“The recent outbreak of fighting in Juba and elsewhere is only the latest in a cycle of violence fueled by impunity. Sustainable peace will remain elusive if nothing is done to ensure accountability for serious crimes committed in the past,” said Sheila Muwanga, FIDH Vice President.  

“The African Union must start engaging with South Sudanese, including civil society, to determine the statute, rules of procedure, location and personnel of the court,” she added.

They also called on the AU to ensure that the court complies with international fair trial standards, draws on best practices of other hybrid and ad hoc tribunals, includes South Sudanese nationals among its personnel, provides for the participation of victims at all stages of the proceedings and guarantees the  protection of victims and witnesses.

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