South Sudan police peacekeepers welcomed back

The Ministry of Police Prisons and Correction Services has welcomed back 15 police officers who were deployed to work as peacekeepers in South Sudan.

Police Commissioner Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil and his executive convened a meeting at the Police Headquarters on Tuesday morning to welcome back the returning police officers while acknowledging their role as members of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

According to the Deputy Police Commissioner, Papalii Monalisa Tiai-Keti, the police officers arrived three weeks ago and had to go into quarantine for two weeks before they were released last Friday.

“The Ministry is very pleased and is grateful to have them back on our shore, we were expecting them as of last year,” she added.

“But due to Covid-19 pandemic which caused the delay of their arrival so their mission was extended.

“We are happy for them to be back after serving their mission but they are the representatives for Samoa as they are the ambassadors that we welcomed and will continue working with them ahead.”

Papalii added that the police officers showed courage being away from their families for so long amidst a global pandemic.

“In spite of the many challenges they have been through and separation from their families and loved ones, we are very proud to have them back home safe and sound,” she said.

The police officers flew out of the country for South Sudan in early 2019 and were scheduled to return last year. But the closure of international borders delayed their return home.

The Ministry has also begun preparations for the 21 May snap election which was declared by the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II last Tuesday.

The safety of the people during the proposed election is a focus for the Police, added Papalii.

"As we all know our priority is for the safety of our people so we have also prepared for the election and by next week and police officers will surely know where to headed to, also a discussion with the Office of the Electoral Commission (O.E.C.) will be conducted as well in making sure that everything has to be confirmed before next week,” she said.

However, the decision of the Head of State to revoke last month’s general election results and order a fresh election tentatively scheduled for 21 May is now being contested in the Supreme Court by the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party.

The matter is scheduled to return to the court this Thursday.

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