News / Africa

John Kerry Calls for 'Bold Steps' to End South Sudan Fighting

The South Sudanese Minister in the Office of the President, Awan Riak, (left) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met April 10, 2014 in Washington.
The South Sudanese Minister in the Office of the President, Awan Riak, (left) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met April 10, 2014 in Washington.
— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on the government of South Sudan Thursday to take "bold steps" to end the conflict that has brought the country to the edge of famine and forced more than a million people from their homes.

Speaking at a meeting with South Sudanese Minister in the Office of the President, Awan Riak, Kerry "raised the need for the Government of South Sudan immediately to stop the fighting, provide full humanitarian access, and cease harassment and threats against the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)," the U.S. State Department said.

Kerry also urged South Sudan’s leaders to "prioritize the interests of the South Sudanese people over their own personal or ethnic interests."
 
A sick displaced man lies asleep on a bed while a mother bathes her son and keeps an eye on her other child in the United Nations camp in Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 12, 2014.A sick displaced man lies asleep on a bed while a mother bathes her son and keeps an eye on her other child in the United Nations camp in Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 12, 2014.
x
A sick displaced man lies asleep on a bed while a mother bathes her son and keeps an eye on her other child in the United Nations camp in Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 12, 2014.
A sick displaced man lies asleep on a bed while a mother bathes her son and keeps an eye on her other child in the United Nations camp in Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 12, 2014.

"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. But we will not stand by while the hopes of a nation are held hostage to short-sighted and destructive actors," the State Department quoted Kerry.

The two men met days after President Barack Obama signed an executive order, clearing the way for targeted sanctions to be imposed on anyone who fuels the conflict in South Sudan, obstructs the slow-moving peace process or commits rights abuses in the young country. 

The State Department did not say if Kerry and Riak discussed the U.S. sanctions, but the South Sudanese minister talked to South Sudan in Focus on Wednesday after a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Riak said that his government was not worried by the threat of sanctions because it has been working to restore peace, not stoking violence.

Riak told the audience at CSIS that South Sudanese President Salva Kiir is drawing up a roadmap to take South Sudan back to peace and stability.

Among the cornerstones of the roadmap are a cessation of hostilities and the convening of a national dialogue that will include all South Sudanese. Both proposed messures are among the "bold moves" Kerry said the United States was looking for in South Sudan.  

In a somewhat rambling speech, Riak also said the outbreak of fighting on December 15 took the government by surprise.
 
“We never expected that we would use the language of guns again," he said.

He never directly mentioned the possibility of the United States imposing sanctions on South Sudanese leaders, but he did say that South Sudan needs U.S. support, not punishment.
We never expected that we would use the language of guns again.


"I had a meeting with USAID and I mentioned that there is a need for the U.S. as a midwife of the birth of the country of South Sudan, not to abandon us at this time and say it is punishing (us)... If there is anything we need most, it is support, not just punishing us," he said.

Zach Vertin, a senior advisor to the U.S. Special Envoy to South Sudan and Sudan, and John Temin of the U.S. Institute of Peace jointly stressed the urgency of finding a solution to the crisis in South Sudan.

"We have heard in these past few days discussion of a possible famine in South Sudan, of 3.7 million people potentially at risk for starvation. At the same time we’re in the midst of a three-week break in negotiations in Addis on these issues," Temin said.

"I find that juxtaposition remarkable and sad," he said.
John Temin of the US Institute of Peace at the CSIS panel discussion on South Sudan, April 10, 2014 in Washington DC.John Temin of the US Institute of Peace at the CSIS panel discussion on South Sudan, April 10, 2014 in Washington DC.
x
John Temin of the US Institute of Peace at the CSIS panel discussion on South Sudan, April 10, 2014 in Washington DC.
John Temin of the US Institute of Peace at the CSIS panel discussion on South Sudan, April 10, 2014 in Washington DC.
Temin also dismissed reports that life has returned to normal in parts of the country, including the capital, Juba.

"I think 70,000 people living in U.N. camps is far from normal," he said.

"I think that people from certain groups not feeling safe to walk the streets of the capital city... is not normal. I think having a large contingent of a neighboring country’s army on your land is not normal and I think that having over one million people displaced because of the violence is far from normal."
There is a need for the U.S. as a midwife of the birth of the country of South Sudan, not to abandon us at this time and say it is punishing (us).

"This is not a normal situation. It’s an extraordinary situation and an extraordinary situation requires a sense of urgency from all the parties, especially the protagonists who are doing the fighting. I’m not sure we’re seeing that sense of urgency right now," he said.
    
Vertin said the peace process -- which is on hold until the end of the month -- seems to be "stuck in tactics" and, echoing the words of Kerry, he called for "bold moves in Juba to unlock this situation."

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: robanson from: juba
April 11, 2014 1:37 PM
The govement of s.sudan kill Nuer like Anmal in juba more thin 17000died becuse they are Nuer.


by: climp jones from: tibet
April 11, 2014 11:41 AM
the usual Hollow Threats and Going No Whwere Fast rhetoric from Secretary Of State Lurch

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid