January 11, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudanese president Salva Kiir said on Saturday that any attempt to impose sanctions against his government would undermine efforts to end the current conflict.
- South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir speaks after meeting with Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir, in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 (AP/ Ali Ngethi)
“We have already accepted in principle to cease hostilities and engage in dialogue without preconditions. We are now ready for ceasefire. If the other side reciprocates, we will certainly implement the agreement", a senior government official quoted Kiir as saying.
The senior member of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) claimed president Kiir is disappointed by calls from the international community on his government to release nine political detainees, held since three weeks for an alleged coup d’état.
Kiir has said he is unwilling to release detainees until it is proven they are not responsible for causing the violence in Juba that began on December 15 between members of the Presidential Guards.
The detainees and those who have rebelled against the government all deny Kiir’s claims that the clashes were an attempted coup. The rebel’s delegation to talks in Addis Ababa have for over a week demanded that the detainees are released before a ceasefire can be agreed.
"The president told the secretary-general of the United Nations Friday that he would work with the mediators and the international community to bring peace and stability in the country", the senior official reaffirmed on Saturday.
Last week, the mediators from the East African regional bloc the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development visited the detainees in Juba, receiving assurances from them that their status should not be a barrier to ceasing hostilities.
The official further pledged that "the government will release the detainees once the legal processes are completed. Their release should not hold talks. It should also not be used as a pressure on the government."
"Releasing them without legal processes would breach the constitution and our laws", he added.
The UN Security Council, secretary general Ban Ki-moon and different American officials openly demanded president Salva Kiir to release the nine political detainees but also said their detention should not prevent the ongoing talks from reaching a cessation of hostilities.
According to Reuters, American administration is considering individual sanctions against South Sudanese officials seen as blocking efforts to reach a peaceful agreement or committing atrocities and war crimes.
This step shows the disenchantment and discontent of US administration which is the main political and economic supporter of the young nation. "Washington realises it has no leverage in South Sudan", said an observer in Juba.
The deputy speaker of South Sudan’s national legislative assembly, Mark Nyipuoc, told Sudan Tribune that the government was acting in accordance with the interest of the people and the constitution.
"It is up to certain people to dictate decisions. The international community should focus on efforts to make the other side accept cessation of hostilities instead of issuing threats", he said.
The "solution to end this situation must come from our people", he said, pointing out that the government has formed a committee to communicate what the "government is doing to ensure peace prevails in the country."
Juba’s efforts to bring an end to the conflict "should be complimented" and not met with the threat of sanctions, Nyipuoc said.
Last Thursday, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on South Sudan crisis that she had "not seen any evidence that this was a coup attempt, but it certainly was the result of a huge political rift between Riek Machar and the president."