In Summary
  • Igad ministers said they were willing to punish spoilers who violate cessation of hostilities.
  • President Kiir accused the US of fixing their mind on one solution and disregarding all other proposals.

Kenya and its peers in the eastern Africa region are resisting imposing sanctions on South Sudan because it could damage the legitimacy of mediators involved.

This week, President Uhuru Kenyatta, meeting with Ethiopia and Djibouti leaders, publicly voiced his disappointment with the way South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his nemesis Riek Machar have dragged on with talks as violence persists.

But Nairobi wants to stick with the circuitous talks led by regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), supported by the US, UK and Norway (Troika).

"Obviously, the President is disappointed at the slow pace of progress in the peace process in South Sudan.

"But the President pronounces himself through the framework of Igad and so we have to wait for direction from the regional body," State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu told the Sunday Nation.

The Igad mediation produced a deal in August 2015, known as the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), that was meant to establish a transitional government for Kiir and Machar.

Its original structure collapsed in July 2016 and Machar fled.

Subsequent efforts to provide an alternative deal have been hampered by splintering of groups and parties refusing to compromise.

Sources told the Sunday Nation the US and the UK, some of the main financiers of the Igad mission, are pushing for a total regime change in South Sudan as well as targeted sanctions on alleged spoilers.

But South Sudan’s neighbours, which the US wants to implement the sanctions that include freezing of assets and travel bans, have indicated such a move could spoil any remaining legitimacy of Igad in the talks as it prepares another session in Addis Ababa this weekend.

"We assess that the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan is no longer inclusive.

"The forced exile of key leadership representatives who signed the ARCSS further demonstrates the Kiir regime’s cynical repudiation of the peace process," the White House said on Wednesday.

"The promotion of UN-sanctioned individuals to senior government positions, such as Jok Riak to Chief of Defence Forces, demonstrates the South Sudanese Government’s disdain for international norms.

"To that end, the United States will condemn any unilateral effort of the current Government of South Sudan to extend its power through sham elections, the legislature, or continued military offensives."

This week, President Kenyatta, Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Djibouti President Ismael Guelleh said in two separate communiques that they were frustrated with the violence in South Sudan.

But they fell short of pronouncing their preferred solution to the impasse.

In addition to regime change, the US has pushed the region to implement sanctions similar to those imposed on Zimbabwe, where certain leaders were barred from travelling or their assets frozen.

Page 1 of 2