By KEVIN J. KELLEYU.S. Army soldiers of the East Africa Response Force (EARF), a Djibouti-based joint team assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, prepare to load onto a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, to support with an ordered departure of personnel from Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Micah Theurich)
February 27, 2014[DN] — The Obama administration is withholding military aid to South Sudan and transferring some of that money to Igad’s ceasefire monitoring efforts, the US special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan told Congress on Wednesday.
“Business as usual” must cease in the case of strife-torn South Sudan, Ambassador Donald Booth declared in testimony to a House of Representatives panel.
“As one sign of this,” he said, “I would note that our security assistance to South Sudan is not going forward at this time, and that some of it is being re-programmed to support the regional verification mission.”
Ambassador Booth did not specify the amount of US funding being transferred to the ceasefire monitoring and verification initiative being carried out by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. That East African grouping includes Kenya and seven other countries.
The envoy also did not indicate how much funding for South Sudan’s army and police is being withheld by the United States.
The research arm of the US Congress notes that aid to South Sudan’s security sector has totalled more than $300 million during the past 10 years.
In his remarks on Wednesday, Ambassador Booth criticised the performance of the South Sudan government.
Authorities in Juba, he said, have “attempted to contain inter-communal violence without fully committing to the hard work of addressing its causes, which include trauma from decades of war, economic disparity, historical grievances between communities, human rights abuses, and political grievances due to real or perceived under-representation.”
“On top of this,” Ambassador Booth continued, “the government had also progressively reduced the space for political competition, within and outside the ruling party, and for independent media and civil society voices to be heard.”
He endorsed the efforts by Igad mediators to resolve the conflict.
“Their premise, one with which I agree, is that the government must not be given the space to return to business as usual with a quick fix and political accommodations for the main protagonists, for the simple reason that this will not bring about a sustainable peace,” Ambassador Booth said.