In 2011, the United States was a proud and hopeful supporter of the newly independent nation of South Sudan. Seven years later, the leaders of this country have squandered this partnership, pilfered the wealth of South Sudan, killed their own people, and repeatedly demonstrated their inability and unwillingness to live up to their commitments to end the country’s civil war. The result is one of Africa’s worst humanitarian disasters. The December 2017 cessation of hostilities has never been enacted; fighting across the country increases daily. Famine is looming once again in multiple areas of South Sudan, and more than seven million people will face life-threatening hunger in the coming months.
The American people are generous and loyal. We have endeavored to help the people of South Sudan. It is, however, the responsibility of the South Sudanese Government to protect and provide for its own citizens. The United States Government will not continue in a partnership with leaders who are only interested in perpetuating an endless war characterized by ethnically-motivated atrocities.
The United States remains committed to working with regional leaders to bring peace and stability to South Sudan, and we commend Ethiopia’s efforts. However we are deeply frustrated with the lack of progress toward an agreement, and we must ensure our shared efforts reflect the urgency of the situation. The only path to peace for South Sudan is through a negotiated arrangement for an inclusive transitional government that reflects South Sudan’s diversity and that provides checks and balances on political and economic power. We are open to considering any process that can achieve this outcome.
Today, the United States will initiate a comprehensive review of its assistance programs to South Sudan. While we are committed to saving lives, we must also ensure our assistance does not contribute to or prolong the conflict, or facilitate predatory or corrupt behavior. Included in this review will be the U.S. support for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and other mechanisms intended to support the 2015 peace agreement known as the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS).
We assess that the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan is no longer inclusive. The forced exile of key leadership representatives who signed the ARCSS further demonstrates the Kiir regime’s cynical repudiation of the peace process. The promotion of UN-sanctioned individuals to senior government positions, such as Jok Riak to Chief of Defense Forces, demonstrates the South Sudanese Government’s disdain for international norms. To that end, the United States will condemn any unilateral effort of the current Government of South Sudan to extend its power through sham elections, the legislature, or continued military offensives.
Only an inclusive, negotiated agreement is acceptable as a means to extend the South Sudanese Government’s term. The Government of South Sudan has lost credibility, and the United States is losing patience. The people of South Sudan deserve a government that is able and willing to lead the country to a stable future.