JUBA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said on Wednesday the deadline for the deployment of a much-awaited regional protection force in the war-torn country had expired unless the UN Security Council issues a new resolution on it.
Minister of Information Michael Makuei told Xinhua that the Dec. 15, 2016 deadline for the deployment of the African peacekeepers in the capital Juba had expired.
"We have proved beyond reasonable doubt that Juba and its surrounding environment is safe," Makuei said, adding that a new UN Security Council resolution is needed for the deployment to happen.
Renewed fighting broke out in South Sudan last July between forces led by President Salva Kiir and those loyal to his former deputy Riek Machar.
In August 2016, the UN Security Council approved the deployment of the 4,000-strong force to protect civilians following a request by the regional body Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The force is expected to beef up the existing 13,000-strong UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) troops in the war-torn country.
"We are saying there is absolute security in Juba and there is no need for the regional protection force. If they (UN Security Council) want to increase the number of forces in UNMISS, that's another issue," Makuei said.
South Sudan had vehemently opposed the deployment of the force but agreed to it last November.
South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after President Kiir accused his sacked deputy Machar of plotting a coup. Machar denied the accusation but then mobilized a rebel force.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government in last April, but was devastated by the July 2016 fighting.
Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, over two million displaced and another 4.6 million left severely food insecure since December 2013. Enditem