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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More