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JUBA - 13 Dec 2019

Government accuses US of holding back peace progress

South Sudan government on Friday accused the United States of implementing policies that prevent progress towards peace in the world’s youngest nation.

Speaking to reporters in capital Juba, South Sudan's information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said the United States “has no interest” in peace in South Sudan.

"The position of the American government is very clear, they are not for peace in South Sudan. Whenever they see progress happening in South Sudan they tend to dilute it," he said.

"If they want peace in South Sudan, there is no reason for them every time when we are making progress they come up with something to dilute whatever progress is being made," he added.

Makuei, who is among senior political and military figures that the United States slapped with sanctions in 2014, accused Washington of obstructing the ongoing peace process by imposing visa restrictions and sanctions on individuals.

"Well, of course, that is the position of the American government they are free to decide on whatever to do but for us here we are not even interested in traveling," Makuei said.

The United States on Thursday said it will impose visa restrictions against those who undermine or impede the peace process in South Sudan. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that as the United States re-evaluates its bilateral relationship with the government of South Sudan, the Department of State will implement visa restrictions under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212(a)(3)(C) against those who undermine or impede the peace process in South Sudan.

The statement did not specify how many or which officials will be targeted.

The United States, the top humanitarian donor to South Sudan, recalled its ambassador to Juba last month after President Salva Kiir and opposition leaders failed to form a transitional government.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on five South Sudanese security agents, who it says are responsible for the killing of two critics in 2017.

On November 12, South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar were given 100 days to resolve their differences and form a unity government in February.