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United States demands South Sudanese leaders cease hostilities

By Tapeng Michael Ohure

The United States has expressed concern over rising tensions in South Sudan and demanded President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar halt all forms of hostilities among their troops.

Last week, the South Sudan People’s Defense Force’s (SSPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement-In Opposition (SPLA/M-IO) clashed in Upper Nile state, and signaling that despite two yars of implementing peace, the situation was still volatile.

“We call for both sides to observe fully their obligations under the existing peace agreement and note that inflammatory rhetoric is counterproductive and should cease immediately,” the US said in a statement on March 29.

“The SPLM-IO’s withdrawal from all peace agreement monitoring and verification mechanisms undermines the peace agreement and must be immediately reversed as ceasefire monitoring bodies investigate the recent violence and seek to hold perpetrators responsible,” it said.

The statement further called on President Kiir and First Vice President Machar “to do their utmost to de-escalate tensions and to uphold their respective obligations under the 2018 peace agreement, including its ceasefire provisions.”

“We call on both leaders to resume implementation of key, long-delayed provisions of the revitalized peace agreement, including taking the necessary steps to establish an inclusive process to draft a new constitution, to establish necessary electoral legislation and mechanisms, and to respect the freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.”

The US called on regional states and institutions, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, guarantors of the revitalized peace agreement “to take swift action to lower tensions and put the peace process back on track prior to the expiration of the already extended transition period in February 2023.”

It blamed both President Kiir and First Vice President Machar for stagnation of the peace implementation.

“All sides bear responsibility for the deteriorating situation.  Neither President Kiir nor First Vice President Machar have made good faith efforts to implement the provisions of the revitalized peace agreement, and both have resisted serious attempts to move South Sudan towards the peace, security, and prosperity the South Sudanese people continue to desire,” it said.

“Furthermore, numerous other political leaders also fail to carry out their official responsibilities and many engage in political violence and otherwise violate the letter and spirit of the peace agreement,” it added, calling on all members of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity to take the actions necessary to be seen as credible in the eyes of the South Sudanese people, starting with full adherence to and implementation of the 2018 peace agreement. 

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