A delegation from US President Donald Trump’s administration will arrive in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, on Thursday to assess ways to help end the civil war which has crippled the world’s newest nation.
“We believe this is a positive development as far as engaging directly with South Sudan,” South Sudan Ambassador to South Africa Philip Jada Netana told the African News Agency (ANA) during an interview on Tuesday morning.
“Too often there is a lot of criticism directed towards our country from far away instead of people coming to see the situation first-hand,” said Netana.
One of the objectives of the delegation’s visit will be to see how best the new American administration can work with Juba to implement the national dialogue initiated by President Salva Kiir in December last year.
Kiir called for an inclusive national dialogue process, on December 14, before the national legislative assembly, stating that the political process would be led by eminent statesmen who are “trusted, genuine and credible”.
However, on December 20 he appointed a 30-member committee allegedly known for being supportive of his government. No opposition members from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) were included in the committee.
Some opposition groups responded by calling for the peace process to be held outside the country to allow the participation of all of the armed groups.
The leader of the SPLM-IO, Dr Riek Machar, is currently based in South Africa after fleeing South Sudan claiming his life was in danger.
Expanding on why the forthcoming visit by the American delegation was important Netana told ANA it presented a positive change according to the authorities in Juba.
The South Sudanese government has argued that the former US administration’s desire to impose sanctions was instigated by some quarters in South Sudan which also wanted regime change.
“Under former president Barack Obama the US was considering imposing sanctions on South Sudan but we believe this is not the case with Trump’s administration,” Netana told ANA.
“Not only would we refute the reasons for sanctions being considered but if the new administration wanted these they’d have to put an argument forward for these and win support for their implementation. Furthermore, often sanctions hurt the very people whom they are meant to help,” he added.
Turning to the famine facing South Sudan, Netana said there were a number of factors contributing to the situation including the country’s civil war, erratic rainfall, which was also affecting Kenya and other countries in the area.
Meanwhile, a relative of Thomas Gama, an aide to South Sudan’s Chief Justice Chan Reec Madut, has strongly condemned his unlawful detention and called for his immediate release.
Gama was abducted at gunpoint from Juba airport by South Sudanese National Security Service operatives, last month, the Sudan Tribune reported on Tuesday.
“The unlawful continued detention of Gama at the National Security Service detention facility violates his constitutional rights as enshrined in the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan,” said the relative, who preferred not to be identified.
The former aide has been denied access to family members, legal counsel and has been refused medical treatment since his arrest.
“We challenge the National Security Service to charge him before a competent court of law if they have evidence to support unsubstantiated accusations against him,” said the relative.