Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States is considering sanctions on those responsible for fighting in South Sudan that has resulted in thousands of deaths and displaced more than a million people.
In an interview with VOA at the State Department Monday, Kerry said the Obama administration is “very, very closely” looking at possible sanctions, though he declined to specify who the U.S. might target.
Kerry described the crisis in South Sudan as a tragedy, especially given how long the country struggled to gain its independence, which it achieved finally in 2011. To see the country “tugged downwards by personal ambitions and animosities,” the Secretary said, “is really in many ways a betrayal of the trust of the people in their leaders.”
Fighting broke out South Sudan in mid-December, when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup. Peace talks between the government and rebels began in January, but they have achieved little other than a cessation of hostilities agreement that has been repeatedly violated.
The interview with VOA came one day before Kerry leaves for a six-day trip to Africa, with stops in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. His first stop is the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Ethiopia has been hosting peace talks between South Sudan’s government and rebels. There are no plans, at present, for a stop in Juba, capital of South Sudan.
Mr. Kerry was interviewed in English by VOA’s Vincent Makori, host of Africa 54, a daily program of VOA’s English to Africa Service. Excerpts of the interview were broadcast today on Africa 54 and the full interview will be carried tomorrow. Jacques Aristide of VOA’s French-to-Africa Service interviewed the Secretary in French.