Three years ago, I was in Juba to witness the birth of the world’s newest nation, and last week as I returned to South Sudan I saw how fragile the future can be when old grudges degenerate into violence. The United States condemns in the strongest terms recent offensives by South Sudanese government forces against opposition-held positions in Nassir, Bentiu, and elsewhere in Unity and Jonglei states.
These attacks blatantly violate the January 23 Cessation of Hostilities agreement and contradict commitments President Kiir has made in recent days. We call on all parties to re-dedicate themselves to the agreement, not just in words, but in actions, and to halt all military offensives. The government and opposition forces also must cooperate fully with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, and we look forward to the Mechanism’s report on these incidents.
The government and opposition must resolve their differences at the negotiating table, rather than through military action. The United States reiterates our continued support for the IGAD-led talks, and our disappointment with the government delegation’s unwillingness to engage constructively in recent rounds of talks. We call on President Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar to follow through on their commitments to meet directly in the coming days to end the conflict and initiate discussions on an inclusive political transition.
We again call on both sides of the conflict to ensure humanitarian access for UN agencies and others who are trying to provide life-saving assistance to all in need, and to respect and support the UN Mission in South Sudan as it carries out its mandate to protect civilians.