The United States has lost trust in South Sudan’s government for fuelling civil war and must bring peace or risk losing support from Washington, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told President Salva Kiir.
Haley is the first senior member of President Donald Trump’s administration to visit South Sudan, which spiralled into civil war in 2013, two years after independence from Sudan. She met one on one with Kiir for about 45 minutes.
“I let him know the United States was at a crossroads and every decision going forward was going to be based on his actions,” Haley told reporters after the meeting in Juba.
The United Nations warned violence in South Sudan was providing “fertile ground” for a genocide. Kiir’s government denies UN allegations of ethnic cleansing.
“He understood Americans were disappointed in his leadership in South Sudan, I made that very clear. And he understood all the aid or help he hopes will go forward is not a given,” she said.
Haley did not elaborate on further action Washington could take, but said Kiir “got what I was trying to say.” On Monday she said Washington was considering how to pressure Kiir into peace, noting withdrawing aid may not work.
The Trump administration last month imposed sanctions on two senior South Sudanese officials and the former army chief.
“We have lost trust in government and now need to regain that trust and the only way to regain that is through the actions of taking care of all of the people,” Haley told South Sudan’s Eye Radio.
She demanded Kiir allow full and consistent humanitarian aid access and bring peace and stability to the country. She said she pushed a timeline for Kiir to act, but declined to elaborate.
Nhial Deng Nihal, a senior adviser to Kiir, said the president told Haley his government and a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan had established “mechanisms that work jointly to improve and address the humanitarian problems.”
He also told reporters Kiir said government troops “will be observing a cessation of hostilities to create an atmosphere for dialogue.”
PROTEST CUTS SHORT CAMP VISIT
The civil war was sparked by a feud between Kiir, a Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer. It has plunged parts of the world’s youngest nation into famine and forced a third of the population – some four million people – to flee.
A fragile peace deal broke down last year and Machar fled the country. He is in South Africa to stop him stirring up trouble, sources told Reuters in December.
Haley cut short a visit to a camp in Juba, where UN peacekeepers are protecting some 30,000 displaced people, after hundreds of rowdy pro-Machar protesters blocked nearby roads, yelling “Salva Kiir is a killer” and “Welcome USA.”
Protesters held a large sign reading “South Sudan IDPs (internally displaced people) and refugees love President Trump, the peacemaker and supporter of human rights.”
A spokeswoman for the UN mission said the protest “started to gain momentum after Haley left, IDPs became upset she was not able to meet with them.”