The U.S. will enact far-reaching sanctions on South Sudanese officials and rebel leaders if they undermine new talks seeking to end a four-year civil war, the top American diplomat in the country said.
An arms embargo and economic and banking restrictions are all being considered after limited sanctions “definitely got the attention” of the warring sides, according to Michael Morrow, the U.S. Embassy’s charge d’affaires. The country hasn’t had a U.S. ambassador since July as a successor nominated by President Donald Trump’s awaits Senate approval.
The U.S. has made it clear to participants in the negotiations that if “there are any spoilers of the process, if there is anyone who reneges on their commitment, they can expect to face harsh measures,” Morrow said Monday in an interview in the capital, Juba.
South Sudan’s warring sides are due to attend the internationally backed peace forum next month, the latest attempt to quell the conflict that began in December 2013 and has claimed tens of thousands of lives. More than 3.5 million people have been forced from their homes — many to neighboring East African nations — while 4.8 million face severe food shortages.
The U.S. last sanctioned South Sudanese officials in July. Leaders at the new talks should come ready “to lay down their weapons and stick to the cease-fire and be prepared to make difficult compromises,” Morrow said.