US government reaffirms relations with S. Sudan

By: Opio Jackson

The United States government said it was committed to keep its relationship with government of South Sudan despite disagreement on some issues.

Addressing the press at the US Embassy in Juba yesterday, Ambassador Tom Hushek insisted that the US government has been in good relationship with South Sudan since prior to the independence.

On Monday the United States government imposed sanctions on two senior South Sudanese officials, accusing them of fomenting conflict in the country.

Minister of Cabinet Affairs Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro and Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs Kuol Manyang Juuk were blacklisted for their role in perpetuating South Sudan’s years-long conflict by obstructing the country’s stalled peace process, according to the US Department of the Treasury report.

However, Ambassador Hushek dismissed the perception of the regime change by some of the South Sudanese government officials towards the US government. He said their disagreements often surround the questions of the conflict in the country, corruption and how to overcome those problems to build a sustainable peace in the country.

“Those are issues where we have disagreement other than that we do meet and have strong people to people ties between the two countries and that is a very strong foundation for relationship with any future government here,” Ambassador Hushek said.

Last month the US called its ambassador to South Sudan back to Washington for consultations as Washington re-evaluates its relationship with the country after the parties to the Revitalised Peace Agreement announced the extension of the Pre-transitional period for 100 days.

Ambassador Hushek said the recent sanctions that have been announced and passport visa restriction for people who are obstructers to the peace process were some of the outcomes of his consultation.

He said they have also discussed on how to continue with their engagement in the region and active role particularly with the IGAD countries and South Sudan’s neighboring countries.

Ambassador Hushek stressed that the sanctions were not intended for regime change as it has been perceived in the country but rather to isolate the people who have been obstructing the peace process and put pressure on the government.

“Our sanctions are directed to the individuals who themselves through their actions have been obstructing the peace. Delaying peace and trying to extend status quo process sometimes for personal gains to stay in power,” he said.

However, Ambassador Hushek said they were very happy by the positive statement made by both President Salva Kiir and the opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar to form the unity government in February 2020.  

“We are wishing for them the leaders that they reaffirm their commitment to the ceasefire first and foremost and to demonstrate a kind of political compromise that is needed to get this stage to the next stage,” he said.

The US diplomat said they will continue to push on to ensure that those positive words from the leaders were implemented with actions. He noted that they have heard such positive words from the leaders before but have never seen necessary action move to the next stage.

“This is why we keep pressuring all the parties to the agreement and discussing actively with the guarantors in the region and we want the peace process to move forward,” Ambassador Hushek explained.

He reiterated that despite different opinions between the US and Government of South Sudan, the two always sit together for discussions, “that is the important part of the relations but the discussion is very difficult sometimes when we disagree over these issue.”

“We have the relationship that we keep excising and one of the outcomes of my consultation in Washington was the decision that I should come back here and continue with the kind of engagement,” Ambassador Hushek revealed.

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