African leaders at the concluded AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda backed the deployment of regional troops to South Sudan after recent clashes between the country’s main rival factions left hundreds dead and displaced over 40,000 civilians.
Soldiers for the African Union (AU) force are to come from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda.
A 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force is already in the country, but the AU force would have a stronger mandate, officials say.
The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers met in Kenya and Monday and resolved that there was need for extra troops to back the UN mission in the young nation. This also followed a request by UN Security Council to peacekeepers contributing nations to prepare their troops for possible deployment in South Sudan in order to avert a possible outbreak of violence in the conflict-hit nation.
South Sudan’s government says it is opposed the deployment of the force.
President Salva Kiir last week said he would not allow any more foreign troops into his country, saying that would only worsen the situation.
Troops loyal to President Kiir and those loyal to first vice president Riek Machar engaged in a five-day gun battle in and around Juba earlier this month, killing close to 300 people and displacing thousands others.
Despite the ceasefire, Riek Machar has not yet returned to Juba even after receiving call from President Kiir who has calling for dialogue.