WASHINGTON — The United States is concerned about possible instability in South Sudan after President Salva Kiir Mayardit dismissed his entire cabinet, an assistant to President Barack Obama said Thursday.
“The concern that we have is the prospect of instability,” Grant T. Harris, special assistant to the president for Africa affairs, told VOA’s Africa 54 program. “The concern is also the need for a government that’s advancing the development and peace and security issues that the country desperately needs.”
Harris was reacting to President Kiir’s announcement Tuesday that he had dismissed all members of his cabinet, including Vice President Riek Machar and all deputy ministers.
“So what we are asking for right now is that president Kiir quickly and transparently reconstitutes the government,” Harris said. “The idea being in the context of the interim constitution and in a way that reflects the diversity of the people of South Sudan.”
“Form a government and work on those issues that are really the challenges of the day,” he continued, “including the peace and security issues and also the conflict in Jonglei state,” said Harris.
About 100,000 people displaced by fighting
Fighting in Jonglei state has displaced an estimated 100,000 people, and Harris described the situation as a humanitarian crisis that needs immediate attention.
“That’s one of the reasons we need a government so quickly because the challenge is now,” Harris said. “There is a peace and security issue, but there is also a humanitarian crisis with over 100,000 people mainly ethnic Merle have been displaced by this fighting.
“We’ve heard some very disturbing reports about what’s happening in Jonglei state that’s related to ethnic violence,” he continued, “that there are elements of the SPLA (Sudan’s People Liberation Army) that have been complicit with human rights abuses, which is deeply concerning and needs to be looked into right away,” said Harris.
Two years after independence, Harris said the citizens of South Sudan have high expectations for a stable, effective government.
“South Sudanese citizens rightfully expect a government that’s going to advance democracy and develop government,” he said. “That’s what so many fought for and so many have sacrificed for. But there is a vision that was put forward when South Sudan became independent - that was one of good governance and one of transparency, and we believe if true leadership comes forward and really makes the right choices, there is path to greater development,” added Harris.