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عربي

Foreign Minister slams U.S. approach to South Sudan

Waakhe Simon
Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial said last week that Washington DC’s latest decisions over South Sudan’s affairs are threatening efforts to restore stability.
7.05.2015  |  Juba
South Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, addresses the press in Juba, June 21, 2012.
South Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, addresses the press in Juba, June 21, 2012.

Marial aired his criticism during a media briefing in Juba last Thursday, April 30, against a backdrop of the government’s increasing isolation since the conflict broke out in late 2013.  

He directly criticised President Barack Obama for renewing his Administration’s Executive Order on South Sudan which compels the U.S. government to take any measures, including sanctions, that can end the conflict in the country.

The executive order was initially passed by Obama last April in the light of South Sudan’s escalating conflicts and deteriorating humanitarian situation.

The conditions that were mentioned in the executive order in 2014 are not the same conditions as in 2015.”
Barnaba Marial
The United States said South Sudanese current affairs risk insecurity within the country and the surrounding region, including widespread violence and atrocities, human rights abuses, recruitment and use of child soldiers, attacks on peace keepers and the obstruction of humanitarian operations.

Marial disagreed with this verdict, saying the decision will not address the stated issues and insisted that the situation in South Sudan has changed compared to last year. We are telling the American State Department: why did you issue this executive order without changing even a word, because the conditions that were mentioned in the executive order in 2014 are not the same conditions as in 2015,” Marial said.

Marial said seven of the country’s ten states are experiencing peace while aid delivery functions, even in rebel-controlled areas. He added that fighting between government and rebels in most parts of the country has subsided. The government, he said, is no longer engaged in fighting with the rebels, signalling its commitment to peace.

Encourage the peace process,” Marial said, stressing that the efforts of heavyweight international supporters like the U.S should rather focus in boosting the IGAD led peace process which has stalled for over a month now.

During nearly 14 months of fighting, tens of thousands of people are estimated to have been killed in South Sudan and many more have fled their homes. So far there has been no concrete results from peace talks aiming at ending the conflict by the regional block, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, backed by the U.S., the United Kingdom and Norway.

The U.S.’s decision to renew the order is aimed at pressuring the South Sudanese leader President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with former vice President Riek Machar to end the conflict.

The U.S., the Netherlands, Germany and several other international donors to South Sudan, trimmed aid for development projects in the country just after the conflict broke out – hurting the young country’s economy.

The U.S. is one of South Sudan’s leading donors, providing more than one billion US Dollars in assistance since conflict began in 2013.

The U.S. needs to renew its diplomatic efforts at the highest level.”
Abraham Awolich
Abraham Awolich, a policy analyst with the Juba-based think-tank, the SUDD Institute, said there remain a number of big questions about the American position: Has the order made any difference since it was passed? Has it stopped the escalation of violence? Has it deterred the parties, has it meaningfully contributed to peaceful process?”

He said the order has not made any difference to the peace process but rather indicates that the U.S. cannot control the situation. The U.S. needs to renew its diplomatic efforts at the highest level and bear off from threats of sanctions,” Awolich said.

Awolich urged for diplomacy from supporters, including the U.S., to steer the two warring parties towards signing a comprehensive peace deal.