Ethiopia has said it stands ready to increase the number of its troops in South Sudan. The announcement was made on Friday by Getachew Reda the Ethiopian government spokesman, who said the move was aimed at restoring calm and security in a country where renewed armed conflict and fighting broke out in recent days.
“We’re more than willing to take on our part of responsibility in restoring calm in South Sudan,” Reda said.
“We hope and expect the South Sudanese to bury the hatchet,” he said, but added, “If push comes to shove, we’ll have to carry the burden through strengthening the troop numbers.”
Although Ethiopia is already the largest contributor of troops to the UN Mission in South Sudan with over 8000 uniformed personnel, including police, the additional troops could be deployed as part of an “intervention brigade” with a more aggressive mandate mooted by regional bloc The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a multinational body made up of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.
The announcement by the Ethiopian government came at a time when the African Union was considering the establishment of a regional peace keeping brigade in South Sudan. The resolution to establish the brigade was made by the Intergovernmental Agency for Development and endorsed by AU’s Peace and Security Council.
According to media sources, Ethiopia which chairs IGAD will spearhead the process of mobilizing the United Nations (UN) Security Council on the South Sudan conflict.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan currently has some 13,500 soldiers, with Ethiopian troops comprising the largest contingent.