September 24, 2012 (JUBA) – The US government has expressed its deep concern about the governance of South Sudan and has warned that failure to uphold democratic principles will result in the “immediate loss” of US foreign assistance.
- US ambassador to South Sudan, Susan Page (Getty)
The statement comes a week before South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir flies to the US to attend the annual General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York. Kiir is expected is to meet with various leaders at the sidelines of the meeting, including president Barrack Obama.
American ambassador to South Sudan Susan Page said in a letter seen by Sudan Tribune on Sunday that “democracy is a hard earned, but lost easily. It is easy to become impatient with the pace of change and imperfect democratic processes, and want to force that change along by undemocratic means.”
She notes forcing this change undemocratically “will not only crush the dream of a young nation, but it will also lose the support of the United States, one of the strongest partners and supporters of South Sudan and its people”.
Page explained that American people and friends of South Sudan were enthused when its independence was gained and started talks on how best to offer their assistance.
Since attaining independence in 2011 South Sudan has been facing difficulties in its governance, including embezzlement scandals and human rights abuses.
Kiir published an amnesty to government officials in June accusing them of taking US$4bn from the nation’s coffers.
The country’s vice president, Riek Machar has called on the international community to the nation to build its institutions and instil effective systems of accountability and transparency to tackle the corruption problem.
In July a publisher agreed a civil recovery order of US$17.7m for securing education contracts in South Sudan by buying off officials
Human Rights Watch’s August report describes the South Sudanese military as “responsible for unlawful killings, torture, and looting of civilian property.” It is also critical of the proliferation of arbitrarily detained prisoners and the suffering of women in forced / early marriages and domestic violence. It also noted that “ South Sudan’s leaders have stated their commitment to ratify major human rights treaties, but have yet to do so.”
Page explained that the US administration provided a total of over US$1bn to South Sudan in 2011- 2013 to support good governance, agriculture, economic development, education, the environment, conflict mitigation and reconciliation, health, rule of law, human rights, security sector reforms, and civil society development.
However, she noted that the funding “is not a gift; it is an investment in the world’s youngest country and newest democracy’s success following decades of strife”.
Page explained that the US is dedicated to providing support to the new nation’s aims to ensure its commitment to citizen participation and political plurality, equality and tolerance, accountability and transparency, free and fair elections, economic freedom and opportunity, human rights protection and enforcement of the rule of law.