The leaders of South Sudan and the armed opposition challenging their authority have again failed to live up to their pledge to form a transitional government and end the fighting that has badly split the East African nation.
The United States, along with its Troika colleagues from Norway and the United Kingdom, condemns the continued foot-dragging over negotiating a political settlement. Deadlines keep passing and innocent people keep dying. It is both an outrage and insult to the people of South Sudan.
The South Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition agreed on a 60-day timeframe in which to form a transitional government of national unity. That deadline passed August 10. Regional leaders helped broker the agreement, but despite the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, or IGAD, mediation team’s best efforts for more than six months, neither party engaged in peace talks seriously nor committed to inclusive negotiations.
Over a million people have been displaced by the fighting, and the nation faces the worst food security crisis in the world. Meanwhile, recent attacks in Maban County have resulted in the deaths of at least six humanitarian workers. Innocent civilians may have been systematically murdered based on their ethnicity. These killings further undermine the enormous humanitarian response needed to support the millions of South Sudanese in desperate need of life-saving food assistance and living in constant fear of violence. This crisis was not caused by drought or flood. It is a man-made calamity created by conflict.
Regional leaders have previously called for punitive measures if the parties failed to secure peace by the agreed deadline. IGAD and the African Union should take immediate, appropriate action to help bring that about.
The United States stands with the people of South Sudan. As the crisis continues and the threat of famine grows, our government will provide an additional $180 million in food aid. President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar must assume their responsibilities to prevent further needless suffering.