South Sudan has announced it would no longer accept the deployment of a United Nations regional protection force.
“The government of South Sudan has the ability to provide security and stability for the country and for its citizens without the deployment of a … protection force,” he said.
The force, authorised by the UN Security Council in August following renewed fighting in the capital Juba, is meant to strengthen the 13,500 UN peacekeeping mission that have been in the country since it gained independence in 2011.
The government’s move is a contradiction of its decision in November to accept the troops’ deployment.
Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk confirmed to dpa news agency that South Sudan was no longer interested in the force.
“Most of the people abroad still believe that there is fighting in Juba and around the country … but Juba is now secure,” Juuk said.
Juuk’s remarks contradict reports of recent fighting in the north and south of the country.
The South Sudanese government had warned in August 2016 that the deployment of more UN forces would marginalise its sovereignty.
In December, a UN human rights commission urged a rapid deployment of the regional protection force amid reports of ethnic killings.
A political split between President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated into a military conflict in December 2013. Tens of thousands have been killed and over two million displaced.
A unity government was formed in April, but fighting broke out again in July, sending Machar into exile.
The UN’s top human rights official has previously blamed South Sudanese government troops and rebels loyal to the president of ethnically targeted violations, including extrajudicial executions and sexual violence incidences in August 2015.
Previously, the UNMISS force in South Sudan has faced criticism for failing to fully protect civilians faced with violence.
Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has dismissed the commander of the UNMISS force following a damning report that accused the blue helmets of failing to protect civilians during an outbreak of violence in July.
The report from a UN special investigation found that a lack of leadership in the UNMISS ended in a “chaotic and ineffective response” during the heavy fighting in the capital Juba from July 8 to 11 that killed dozens of people.