South Sudan will resist plans by neighboring countries to deploy a regional force in the wake of renewed violence in the oil-producing nation, its defense minister said.
The warning comes after East African leaders agreed last weekend to send troops to South Sudan to boost the United Nations mission and protect civilians. The deployment of more regional soldiers will be a violation of the war-torn nation’s sovereignty and the decision was made without proper knowledge of the security situation, Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk said by phone on Wednesday.
“If that occupation actually happens, it will need resistance,” Juuk said. “We will see relationships destroyed and above all, when this is done in South Sudan, it is bound to be done in other countries.”
A power-sharing deal between President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar to end more than two years of civil war has broken down, as fighting in the capital, Juba, left at least 270 people dead earlier this month and led to fighters loyal to Machar fleeing the city. The country, which has sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest crude reserves, is producing as little as 120,000 barrels a day because of the conflict.
Earlier this week, China National Petroleum Corp. said it had evacuated 191 employees because of the latest violence, leaving 77 people to help keep the oilfields running. China’s Foreign Ministry has said it’s willing to work with other nations to ease the conflict. Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. also pump the crude, which is exported via a pipeline through its northern neighbor, Sudan.