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PRESSURE – Not over yet, U.S Ambassador

Thomas Hushek, U.S Ambassador to S. Sudan (photo by Jale Richard):

By Jale Richard

The new United States Ambassador to South Sudan has indicated that pressure from the United States was not yet over if the parties to the conflict did not agree to have peace.

This comes after the United States in the past months sanctioned top government officials for their roles in allegedly obstructing peace in the country. Last month, the U.S proposed sanction on six senior South Sudan leaders was extended to 45 days by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Just last week, a U.S. Treasury official urged East African governments to tighten the loopholes that allowed illicit money from war-torn South Sudan to cross into regional capitals.

“When it comes to South Sudan, for obvious reasons Uganda is of particular importance to us,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker said in Uganda last week. “We also know that much of the open source reporting indicates that South Sudanese elites are hiding assets and buying property right here in Uganda.”

In an interview yesterday, the new U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan, Thomas Hushek said stopping the conflicts, immediately should be possible if the warring parties agreed to stop fighting.

“To stop the fighting we are putting pressure on the parties to the conflict (government and opposition fighters) to come to the negotiation table in good faith to put aside their personal political aspirations and think about the good of the country,” Ambassador Hushek said.  “We are putting pressure on them. This is what you have in terms of the U.S support for sanctions and other pressure to get the parties to come to the table,” he added.

Ambassador Hushek said the U. S pressure had been positive by getting people’s attention in bringing peace to South Sudan.

“This is not putting on sanctions just in order to punish anybody, this is just to motivate people to come to the negotiation table in good faith,” he said.

“It is not a positive result in the sense that it is a finished task, we are not finished yet and if we have to suppose we would keep adding the pressure but the idea was not to have any more sanctions until people came to the negotiating table,” he added.

“It is not finished yet but there have been some impact already,” he said adding that there is increasing international consensus that obstructers of peace need to be dealt with.

The U.S Ambassador also encouraged South Sudan neighbors to jointly pressure the government and opposition of South Sudan to make peace.

“If the countries in the region, IGAD and African Union are saying stronger things about possible punitive measures we will also continue to discuss this in the UN Security Council,” Ambassador Hushek quipped.

He added that South Sudan neighbors should enforce pressure points such as sanctions if South Sudanese leaders fail to reach an agreement in the next phase of the peace talks.

“The next steps are probably more in the hands of South Sudan neighbors. They are the ones that would have to enforce any pressure points if there were to be arms embargo or sanctions, it is mostly the region that has the immediate ability to act in that process,” Ambassador Hushek said.

The new ambassador revealed that his top priority for South Sudan is to have peace in the country, and address the humanitarian situation.

The U.S., the largest donor of humanitarian aid to South Sudan, has already imposed sanctions on some individuals in the country’s leadership. The country is also under a U.S. arms embargo.





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