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US warns South Sudanese leaders against prioritising ethnic interests

April 10, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – The US Secretary of State on Thursday cautioned South Sudanese leaders against prioritising personal or ethnic interests in the ongoing conflict at expense of its peoples’ concerns.

US secretary of state John Kerry speaks about a human rights report in Washington on 27 February 2014 (Photo: AP/Jose Luis Magana)

Senator John Kerry, the office of the spokesperson said, expressed grave concern with respect to the situation in the new nation during a meeting with South Sudan’s minister for the presidency, Awan Riak.

According to the statement, Kerry reaffirmed America’s support for the people of South Sudan, as well as its readiness to stand with those who take bold steps to lead the country out of the crisis.

“The United States will continue to stand with the people of South Sudan and with those who take the courageous – and necessary – steps to bring peace, stability and good governance to South Sudan, so that its people can return to their livelihoods and its economy can flourish,” partly reads the statement.

“But we [US] will not stand by while the hopes of a nation are held hostage to short-sighted and destructive actors,” it added.

Last week, US president Barack Obama authorised targeted sanctions that can and will be used against South Sudanese leaders who contributed to the raging conflict by undermining democratic processes or institutions or by obstructing the peace process and against those who commit human rights abuses in South Sudan.

Violence broke out in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, in mid-December last year in what government alleged was a failed coup on the current regime by the country’s former vice president, Riek Machar.

Since the conflict started, however, the Obama administration has frantically tried to halt hostilities between South Sudan’s warring parties, encouraging them to reach a quick agreement to stop the fighting and engage in an inclusive process brokered by the regional leaders of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to achieve peace and national reconciliation.

Meanwhile, the US secretary of state also emphasised the importance of full cooperation with the African Union Commission of Inquiry and the US government’s support for justice, reconciliation and accountability for human rights violations and abuses.

“They had a frank discussion of the way forward to heal the wounds of the violent conflict that broke out on 15 December, and how to create a durable and inclusive path to peace,” noted the release.

Senator Kerry vowed to continue closely monitoring events in South Sudan, calling for progress toward inclusive, broad-based negotiations led by IGAD leaders.

He further urged the South Sudanese government to “immediately” stop the fighting, provide full humanitarian access, and cease “harassment” and “threats” against the United Nation Mission in the country (UNMISS).