US Clarifies Its Military Aid To South Sudan

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The United States Embassy in Juba issued a statement, dated 13 October clarifying US military assistance to South Sudan.

By Peter Lokale Nakimangole

TORIT, 14 October 2016 [Gurtong] –The SPLM-In Opposition has criticized the United States (U.S.) for renewing military support to the government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir, saying it was a “wrong decision.”

The US embassy however says they have provided on-going support to the regional effort led by the African Union.

"Following the outbreak of the conflict in December 2013, the U.S. government suspended its program of non-lethal assistance to the SPLA.  This program, which operated from 2006-2013, was designed to help professionalize the SPLA and was developed by the United States at the request of the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior," reads part of the statement.

"The U.S. government has not resumed operation of this program and has not provided military assistance to the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GORSS) or to the armed opposition since December 2013. The U.S. government, however, has provided on-going support to the regional effort led by the African Union to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army, which includes a limited SPLA role."

According to the statement issued by the Embassy in Juba, the U.S. government has also provided support to the security institutions established by the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.

"The U.S. Embassy also wishes to clarify the position of the U.S. government with regard to the troubling phenomenon of child soldiers. The United States has long been engaged in dialogue with the relevant government and security authorities in South Sudan, objecting to the recruitment and use of child soldiers and pressing for a cessation of these practices. This policy is unchanged. Regrettably, the United Nations and international NGOs have recently confirmed the ongoing culpability of both government and armed opposition forces in the recruitment and use of child soldiers," details the statement.

It says during the last review cycle stipulated by U.S. law, President Barack Obama determined that it was in the national interest to grant a partial Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) waiver to South Sudan.

"This waiver was necessary to ensure the U.S. government can continue to provide financial assistance to support implementation of the peace agreement, especially to the body known as the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), which is charged with monitoring ceasefire violations. Without this waiver, the United States would be unable to support ceasefire monitoring, a critical activity given ongoing hostilities. This waiver is similar to one issued one year ago, has no relation to the deliberations in New York over the possibility of imposing a UN Security Council arms embargo, and does not mark any change in U.S. policy towards South Sudan," adds the statement partly.

"Moreover, this partial waiver does not indicate a U.S. government intention to expand assistance to South Sudan.  U.S. law currently prohibits new U.S. government assistance to the Government of the Republic of South Sudan until the government takes effective steps to (A) end hostilities and pursue good faith negotiations for a political settlement of the current conflict; (B) provide access for humanitarian organizations; (C) end the recruitment and use of child soldiers; (D) protect freedoms of expression, association, and assembly; (E) reduce corruption related to the extraction and sale of oil and gas; and (F) establish democratic institutions, including accountable military and policy forces under civilian authority."

The United States continues to urge South Sudan to take these steps which we believe would substantially contribute to stabilization and development, says the statement.

The US defends that an important exception to this prohibition is humanitarian assistance and the United States has provided nearly $1.9 billion in emergency humanitarian assistance to the people of South Sudan since December 2013.

"We remain committed to assisting the 2.7 million South Sudanese citizens who have been displaced in South Sudan or who have been forced to flee to neighboring countries as refugees."

"We reiterate our call on South Sudan’s leaders to prioritize the safety and security of the citizens they represent and to allow access to those in need."

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