U.S. Warns Rights Abusers In South Sudan Conflict As State Department Dismisses Uganda Leaders War Comments
Obama: South Sudan human rights abusers will be held accountable
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State dismissed comments by Uganda's President that a regional force would launch a military offensive against South Sudan's former vice president Riek Machar unless he agreed to a ceasefire this week.
Separately the U.S. State Department told The Black Star News that those identified as responsible for atrocities would be held accountable.
Forces supporting Machar and those backing President Salva Kiir have been battling since December 15 when the crisis erupted. More than 1,000 people are reported to have been killed and more than 100,000 displaced; about half sought sanctuary in UN garrisons in South Sudan.
The political dispute between the South Sudan leaders have taken on an ugly ethnic dimension, with Dinkas and Nuers attacking each other. Kiir is a Dinka and Machar is Nuer.
Machar also accuses Uganda's president, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, of taking sides in the South Sudan internal conflict including bombing targets there.
After a meeting of a regional organization called Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) in Nairobi to discuss the South Sudan crisis, Museveni then flew to Juba, the capital of South Sudan to meet with President Silva Kiir, and according to Uganda's The Daily Monitor, said: “We gave Riek Machar four days to respond and if he doesn’t we shall have to go for him, all of us. That is what we agreed in Nairobi..”
IGAD's members include; Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia , Somalia , Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda. Gen. Museveni seemed to have been speaking for himself when he issued the threat to Machar.
Responding to a question from a reporter about Gen. Museveni's remark, during a daily news conference yesterday at the State Department in Washington, deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said she "didn’t see those comments," attributed to Museveni. "I’m happy to look at them. I don't know what he meant, quite frankly," she said.
Responding to questions today from The Black Star News regarding Gen. Museveni's remarks, a spokesperson for the State Department ignored the Ugandan's comments and responded:
"Secretary Kerry has had several conversations with both President Kiir and former Vice President Machar. He has vigorously urged them to take steps to end the violence and begin a good-faith effort at political dialogue. The Secretary has clarified that any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of longstanding support from the United States and the international community. He has also noted that all parties in this conflict have a responsibility to facilitate humanitarian access, to prevent atrocities and to cooperate fully with UN civilian protection and human rights monitoring activities."
The spokesperson added: "Those who are responsible for atrocities or other serious human rights abuses, must be identified and held accountable."
"U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth has been in the region all week. He is working closely with leaders from the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) nations to promote and support a political dialogue.
"As President Obama recently noted, South Sudanese leaders can choose to end the violence, work to resolve tensions peacefully and democratically, commit to dialogue, and take immediate steps to urge calm and support reconciliation. Now is the time for them to show courage and leadership, to reaffirm their commitment to peace, to unity, and to a better future for their people," the spokesperson said.