UN Head of South Sudan mission quits after three years

By IAfrica
In Sudan
May 30th, 2014

Hilde Johnson, the head of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), has officially announced she is leaving in July this year.

Johnson, who will have served for three years as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for South Sudan, made this announcement during a meeting with President Salva Kiir in Juba on Friday.

“I informed the president that by Independence Day in July, I will have completed my three years as special representative, which is much more than usual for a SRSG in a peacekeeping mission of this nature, and in particular also with the crisis that we’ve gone through”, Johnson said in a statement to Sudan Tribune. “I informed the president that I have come to the end of my term and I will be departing South Sudan”, she further added.

Johnson’s decision comes just days after the UN Security Council (UNSC) extended its South Sudan mission mandate with focus on civilian protection, the need to address security, humanitarian issues and the young nation’s political crisis.

New mandate

The UNMISS boss, in her statement, also said she discussed with president Kiir the mission’s new mandate passed by the Security Council on Tuesday, while informing the latter about its members’ decision to pass the course for the resolution.

“I also used the opportunity to reflect with the president that this is a new mandate, it is different from the one that was decided when I came in as the SRSG, which was in 2011″, Johnson said. “It is different and will imply changes also for the Mission.”

Fragile relation with Juba

“It will be better if she was officially replaced by UNSC leadership [other] than resigning”, Edmund Yakani, a South Sudanese activist, told Sudan Tribune on Friday. Her decision to quit is “inappropriate” following UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s recent visit.

Relations between the South Sudan government and UNMISS have been increasingly fraught in recent months. President Kiir has accused the mission of seeking to take over the young country, and supporting opposition forces in South Sudan. He later softened his stance. The government later reported that the UNMISS “turned away” fleeing citizens during the clashes in Bentiu on 15 and 16 April this year, which Johnson called “erroneous”.

File photo: Hilde Johnson talks in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun in New York on Nov. 4. (Yoshiaki Kasuga)

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