SOUTH SUDAN CONFLICT.jpg
A handout photograph released on 12 July 2016 by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) shows UNPOL and Military components of the UNMISS helping civilians and the UN staff during volatile events in Juba, South Sudan, 12 July 2016.
Photograph: EPA/UNMISS / HANDOUT

South Sudan said Wednesday it would no longer accept the deployment of a 4,000-strong regional protection force planned by the United Nations for the violence-plagued country.

"The government of South Sudan has the ability to provide security and stability for the country and for its citizens without the deployment of a ... protection force," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mawein Makol Ariik told dpa.

The force, authorized by the UN Security Council in August following renewed fighting in the capital Juba, is meant to strengthen the 13,500-strong UN peacekeeping mission in the country.

The government's move is a reversal of its decision in November to accept the troops' deployment.

Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk confirmed to dpa that South Sudan was no longer interested in the force.

"Most of the people abroad still believe that there is fighting in Juba and around the country ... but Juba is now secure," Juuk said.

The defence minister's remarks contradict reports of recent fighting in the north and south of the country.

In December, a UN human rights commission urged a rapid deployment of the regional protection force amid reports of ethnic killings.

A political split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated into a military conflict in December 2013. Tens of thousands have been killed and about 3 million displaced.

A unity government was formed in April, but fighting broke out again in July, sending Machar into exile.

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