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U.S. will not support "narrow" peace agreement in South Sudan: White House

South Sudan's Kiir and SPLM-Io leader Riek Machar shake hands during the meeting of IGAD head of states and governments on 21 June 2018 (Photo Louis Jadong)
July 22, 2018 (WASHINGTON) - The White House distanced itself from the IGAD brokered talks for peace in South Sudan saying they would not support the implementation of a "narrow agreement" Juba government and the opposition sign in the upcoming days.

The government of President Salva Kiir and opposition groups are expected to sign an agreement on the implementation of the 2015 peace process mediated by the East African bloc of the IGAD countries.

The parties are now finalizing the outstanding issues on the governance and power-sharing chapter after having signed a compromise on the security arrangements and the implementation of a permanent ceasefire.

"The only hope for success is a process that is widely inclusive of the views of the South Sudanese people and that engages civil society, churches, women, and other excluded groups," said the White House Press Secretary expressing the concern of his administration about the direction of the current peace process.

The spokesperson further cast doubt on the ability of the South Sudanese political leaders, including President Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Machar, to bring genuine peace and accountable governance to the war-ravaged country.

"We remain sceptical that they can oversee a peaceful and timely transition to democracy and good governance," emphasized the statement.

Washington further called on the South Sudanese leaders to demonstrate their clear commitment to peace, inclusivity, and good governance.

"The United States will not be a guarantor of any agreement, and will not fund—or call for additional United Nations resources—to support the transitional government, in the absence of a sustained, demonstrated commitment to peace, inclusivity, financial accountability and good governance".

The United States is one of the Troika countries that facilitate the IGAD mediated process and they are invited to co-sign the agreement on the revitalized peace agreement on 26 July as one of the guarantors of the process.

During the past years, Washington criticized the government of President Kiir for the human rights violations and atrocities committed against civilians. However, it backed a decision by the IGAD leaders to confine SPLM-Io leader in South Africa to prevent the resumption of hostilities after the bloody clashes in July 2016.

Also last May, the United States decided to initiate a comprehensive review of its assistance programs to South Sudan. The assessment process includes the U.S. support for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and other mechanisms intended to support the 2015 peace agreement.

"We must (...) ensure our assistance does not contribute to or prolong the conflict, or facilitate predatory or corrupt behaviour," said the White House on 8 May 2018.

(ST)