AU pushes to deploy troops to South Sudan

The AU called on the UN Security Council to extend the UN mission in South Sudan with a revised mandate.

FILE: Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) soldiers loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar sit in vehicle at the airport in Juba on 20 April, 2016. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - The African Union (AU) has backed a request for African troops with a robust mandate to reinforce UN peacekeepers in South Sudan.

The AU summit meeting in Rwanda's capital approved the request which will now go to the UN Security Council.

At least 200 civilians have been killed in clashes between President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar.

Thousands more have been displaced while a ceasefire appears to be holding.

The African heads of state gathered in Kigali were responding to a communiqué issued by IGAD Plus.

The body represents East African countries plus Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria.

It called on the UN Security Council to extend the UN mission in South Sudan, UNAMISS, with a revised mandate.

That revised mandate, it specified, should include the deployment of a regional protection force to separate South Sudan's warring parties.

AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui says the AU envisions sending an African force with a robust peace enforcement mandate to South Sudan, similar to the African intervention brigade which was sent to the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.