U.S promises ‘harsh’ measures against those rejecting IGAD-led forum

The U.S Chargé d’affaires says the international community will not tolerate any return to violence in South Sudan after the forthcoming revitalization forum being organized by the IGAD.

Ambassador Michael Morrow said the international community will coordinate efforts to impose tough measures against anyone who will object participating in peaceful negotiations.

Last month, the regional body – IGAD –issued a schedule for the revitalization forum to start consultations with South Sudanese leaders and the citizens on the process.

President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Taban Deng Gai, and officials from other political parties in Juba were consulted in October.

IGAD team also met with Dr. Riek Machar in South Africa.

The other category of South Sudanese leaders consulted included, Pagan Amum, Dr. Lam Akol, and General Thomas Cirilo.

Others are General Peter Gadet, General Johnson Olony and Lieutenant General, Bapiny Montuil.

The last people the IGAD envoys will meet on the process are civil society groups and faith-based leaders, among others;

The exercise begun on 13th of October.

According to Ambassador Michael Morrow, the United States and its allies will reject any attempts by any group to pick up arms or refuse to lay down their arms once talks begin on the revitalization program.

“The Americas, the European, the Africans; we will link arms and make sure that nobody can run away from the negotiating table. We will also work together to ensure – if need be – that harsh measures awaits those who try to run away from the table, harsh measures will await those who try to pick the guns back or never laid them down in the first place,” he said.

“And harsh measures will await those who will those who interfere with the peace process and obstruct it, and put themselves before the put the people of South Sudan.”

Ambassador Morrow last week told Eye Radio that the United States is pursuing an end to fighting and the return of the displaced people to their homes as a prerequisite to the return of investment and development in the country.

“All the different parties from the government, to the biggest opposition parties to the smallest opposition parties, they all must come to the table, prepare to find common grounds where there is some, and prepare to make tough compromises where there is no common ground. The job of the broader international community is to make sure that no one runs away from the table,” the Ambassador said.

He said that without sustainable peace, it is difficult for the U.S government to solicit investors or engage in the projects that will create jobs and boost the economy of South Sudan.

Last year, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley urged South Sudan’s leaders to seize “the last chance” to salvage the 2015 peace agreement and end the worsening violence that has forced 4 million people to flee their homes and left 7.6 million in desperate need of aid.

She called on the opposing parties to commit themselves to the revitalization process put forward by the regional group, IGAD, “to resuscitate the peace agreement — and to do so quickly for time is running short.”

Haley told the U.N. Security Council that “the people of South Sudan are suffering and the promise of their hard-fought independence is slipping away.”