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JUBA - 8 Oct 2019

Washington wants outstanding issues settled

US Ambassador to South Sudan, Thomas Hushek speaking on Eye Radio on 25 February, 2019
US Ambassador to South Sudan, Thomas Hushek speaking on Eye Radio on 25 February, 2019

The Trump administration wants South Sudan’s rival leaders settle outstanding issues in the peace agreement, a diplomat said.

This comes as a November 12 deadline looms to form a transitional government, a key part of the revitalised peace agreement that has been delayed by disputes.

Machar's opposition group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM- IO), on Monday rejected a push for a unity government without proper security arrangements and agreement on the internal boundaries of states.

Speaking to journalists in Juba on Monday, the US ambassador to South Sudan, Thomas Hushek, said the parties to the agreement should start making progress on the number of states and security arrangements.

“They need to be talking about settling this outstanding political issue of the number and boundaries of states… the government party has refused to participate in the ones that the IGAD tried to call and yet they haven’t established any other mechanisms to discuss that outstanding political issue,” he said.

Hushek noted the slow pace of implementation of security arrangements, saying the government has not yet fulfilled its pledge to fund the peace agreement.

The US diplomat urged the government to accelerate the registration of its forces in military barracks across the country, saying the United States wants to see an inclusive transitional government in South Sudan.

“It cannot be a unity government of the incumbent government that moves ahead without the SPLM-IO or other signatory parties drop out,” he said.

Political space

Hushek stressed the need for political space and press freedoms as part of the peace agreement in South Sudan. “I have reached out several months ago to Thomas Cirilo, and discussed with him the importance of pursuing whatever objective he has without violence, without armed forces,” he said.

“When you hear us talking about the need for political space here in South Sudan as part of the peace agreement, that’s about making sure that all parties whether they signed the peace agreement or not, have room to champion political change,” he added.

Hybrid Court

The US ambassador also stressed the need to start the process for transitional justice stipulated in the peace agreement, saying serious human rights violations were committed since conflict broke out in 2013.

“As the peace process hits the next stage which is the transitional government stage, in this period there are a lot of things that so far have not been put into practice in the peace agreement during pre-transitional period that really need to be activated, one of these is the AU and government of South Sudan hybrid court, truth, reconciliation and healing commission and compensation of victims of human rights abuses,” he said.

Amnesty International said in its report on Monday that the South Sudanese authorities have allowed impunity to flourish over serious human rights violations committed since conflict broke out in 2013.

Last year, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that at least 382,900 South Sudanese died as a result of the country's civil war.