JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - The South Sudanese government said Wednesday that it was disappointed with the State Department's decision to recall the U.S. ambassador to the country.
Ambassador Thomas Hushek was recalled Monday in what was widely viewed as a signal of Washington's displeasure over South Sudan's failure to meet an extended deadline for forming a unity government, a critical component of a peace deal aimed at ending a bloody five-year civil war in the eight year-old nation.
South Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mawien Makol called the U.S. diplomatic move "a double standard," adding that South Sudan's president and opposition party had agreed that "outstanding issues [in the peace process] have to be given time."
Makol said Washington's message to South Sudan had been that "peace should be done inclusively” and that “all stakeholders to the peace must agree to the implementation of the peace."
The State Department has confirmed the recall of Hushek for consultations.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted criticism of South Sudan's failure to form a unity government, adding: "The U.S. will reevaluate its relationship with the Government of South Sudan & work to take action."
Plea for support
South Sudan is urging the Trump administration to reconsider its position "and to come back on board and support this country," Makol told South Sudan in Focus, adding that President Salva Kiir needed support from "longtime partners like the United States" and that Washington's stance "does not help the [bilateral] relations."
"[T]he people of South Sudan support the extension of the 100 days [for forming a unity government]," Makol said.
A second extension of the pre-transitional period was approved by parties to South Sudan's revitalized peace deal earlier this month. The Trump administration warned it would sanction anyone blocking the road to peace in the country.