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South Sudanese React to UNMISS Chief's Resignation

  • Charlton Doki

United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) Special Representative to Secretary-General (SRSG) Hilde Johnson, March 6, 2012.

United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) Special Representative to Secretary-General (SRSG) Hilde Johnson, March 6, 2012.

The announcement Friday by Hilde Johnson that she will be stepping down as head of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan drew mixed reactions from South Sudanese.

Political commentator Leben Nelson Moro said how people greeted Johnson's resignation depended in part on which side of the fence -- or the walls surrounding U.N. bases in South Sudan -- they are on.

"People in government will probably say she didn't do a good job because they had a very difficult relationship toward the end of her term," he said.

"Since the fighting started in December, there's been serious problems, possibly also to do with the many civilians who fled to U.N. bases to seek security. I think the government would very much like those people to come out (of U.N. bases) so that they can go to their homes. I think that probably created problems between UNMISS and the government," Moro said.

Between 75,000 and 80,000 civilians are sheltering in U.N. bases in South Sudan. For them, Moro said, Johnson will be remembered as someone who "did her best, she tried very hard to ensure those who feel insecure outside, they found some security in U.N. bases, even though the conditions are bad."

Most of the reactions on South Sudan in Focus's Twitter feed praised Johnson for doing the best she could in difficult circumstances. But a few comments on Twitter said Johnson's departure was good news for South Sudan. Another comment, which was posted on South Sudan in Focus' Twitter feed, accused Johnson of cozying up to opposition leader Riek Machar. That comment included profanity and will not be published.

Karin Zeitvogel contributed to this report from Washington.

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