By Daphne Psaledakis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has found that South Sudan’s leadership is failing to implement parts of a peace deal signed in 2018 and warned it will continue to impose costs on those perpetuating the conflict, according to a report seen by Reuters.
The U.S. State Department – in a report to Congress that has not been made public – said the unity government was slow to implement essential commitments made under the 2018 deal and failed to meet key milestones in a timely manner.
“Ten years after independence, South Sudan remains a deeply fragile nation beset by weak governance, pervasive insecurity, fiscal mismanagement, and widespread corruption,” the report read.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but descended into fighting two years later when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader, now first Vice President, Riek Machar clashed in the capital.
The bloodshed spiraled into a civil war that killed 400,000 people.
The two main sides signed a peace deal in 2018 but hunger and deadly clashes are still common across the country.
Though the 2018 peace deal in South Sudan halted the worst violence of that war, analysts say there are several unresolved issues, such as stalled reunification of the national army, that could plunge the country back into widespread conflict.
The State Department report said the government lacks the discipline and transparency in managing public finances and has low capacity to manage South Sudan’s oil-dependent budget, resulting in large-scale corruption and insufficient transparency.
It warned that governance failures have become a key driver of national and subnational violence and called for sustained reform, transparency and accountability.
South Sudan’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The report also warned that Washington would continue to impose costs on those who perpetuate the conflict. The United States has previously imposed sanctions on individuals and entities over the conflict in the country.
It noted that domestic and international entities purchase South Sudan’s oil commodities without “acknowledging the link between the elite’s corrupt practices and continued subnational violence,” and said State and Treasury department officials regularly coordinate on corruption in the country’s oil sector.
The report also warned that the humanitarian situation in South Sudan, where large parts of the population are internally displaced and over half are severely food insecure, is worsening and has been exacerbated by heavy flooding.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Mary Milliken and Sam Holmes)