Is trusteeship an option for South Sudan?

Saturday August 13 2016

The African Union may be considering support for an international trusteeship arrangement for South Sudan, a US-based analyst told The EastAfrican last week.

The AU has been discussing that option behind closed doors “for at least a year,” said Alex de Waal, a South Sudan expert and research professor at a leading US school of international relations.

“It would be much more palatable on the continent, and more difficult for South Sudan to resist, if the idea were to be championed by neighbouring countries,” Prof de Waal added.

The possibility of placing South Sudan under some form of international supervision is gaining influential backers. But the government has made it clear it will resist any attempt to impose trusteeship or protectorate status on South Sudan.

Information Minister Michael Makuei said last week that a US-led effort in the Security Council to expand UN military operations in the country smacks of imperialism.

Washington’s initiative is aimed at “turning South Sudan into a protectorate,” Mr Makuei charged. The government will not permit such violation of national sovereignty, he vowed.


The possibility of replacing South Sudan’s current government with an international oversight mechanism gained fresh momentum last month when two other former US diplomats urged that the country be put on “life support.”

A joint UN/AU administration should be installed and remain in place until national institutions are able to manage political differences non-violently, suggested Princeton Lyman, US President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan from 2011 to 2013, and Kate Almquist Knopf, USAid’s Sudan and South Sudan director from 2000 to 2007.

Backing for an “international trusteeship” was also recently expressed by a prominent figure inside South Sudan. Pagan Amum Okiech, a former leader of the ruling party, told Radio Tamazuj last week that he will campaign at home and abroad for creation of a transitional government of technocrats supervised by the UN.

Such an intervention would force President Salva Kiir to resign, he predicted.