ADDIS ABABA JULY 28 2015 (CISA) – South Sudan’s warring factions may face further international pressure if they do not reach a peace deal by August 17, United States President Barack Obama has said.
“If we don’t see a breakthrough by the 17th, then we have to consider what other tools we have to apply greater pressure on the parties,” President Obama told a news conference July 28, with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
The US President in Ethiopia on a two-nation Africa tour that also saw him visit Kenya was speaking ahead of talks with East African leaders from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, and the African Union to discuss the crisis and study penalties if the deadline is not met, reporter Reuters.
During the meeting, the African leaders did not reach a consensus on what to do after the deadline passes but agreed on the urgency of the situation and discussed options ranging from applying sanctions to sending in a “regional intervention force.”
According to the UN thousands have been killed and more than 2.2 million displaced since fighting broke out in the world’s newest country in December 2013 following the conflict raging between President Salva Kiir’s government and rebels commanded by Dr Riek Machar.
“The people are suffering on the ground and we cannot let this go on,” said Prime Minister Hailemariam who has hosted the peace talks, adding the meeting should send a “strong signal”.
The South Sudanese government however responded by saying additional sanctions could harm the peace process.
“What we need from the international community is support, so if more measures come it will jeopardize the chances of the people of South Sudan,” said Ateny Wek Ateny, a spokesman for President Kiir.
Rebel spokesman James Gatdet on his part welcomed Obama’s comments and urged the government to tackle key obstacles, saying “peace is possible”.
The United States and the European Union have already imposed sanctions on individual commanders from both sides and have urged countries in the region to put more pressure on the South Sudanese to make peace.