Displayed with permission from Asharq Al-Awsat

Malabo- The Republic of South Sudan Foreign Minister Deng Alor Kuol revealed challenges facing the implementation of peace in South Sudan and the latest developments on the insurgency being led by the former vice president, Riek Machar.

South Sudan is a landlocked country with its capital being Juba in East-Central Africa and has gained its independence from Sudan in 2011.

In his Thursday interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Kuol said that the United States’ support has been cut short to humanitarian relief. No U.S. economic or military aid was given to the South Sudan government. Given that the peace was not reached under U.S. conditioning, there have been high reservations on international aid presented.

More so, South Sudan confirmed its backing of the resolution reached by the Arab African summit on condemning the highly controversial U.S. Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA,) saying that the war against terror must only target militias and nonconformist terror organizations not sovereign countries, said Kuol.

The Foreign Minister reaffirmed that relations shared with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia are strong, also revealing a soon anticipated visit by South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit to Gulf countries– namely Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and hopefully Saudi Arabia. Concerning Kiir’s visit to the kingdom, it remains open given that Saudi Arabia has not been contacted for preparations.

Matters in South Sudan are on steady progress after Taban Deng Gai was appointed Vice President, earlier this year, replacing coup leader Machar. More so, state of affairs on both political and economic scopes are enhancing significantly, Kuol said.

The return to oil production will heal South Sudan’s economy- but with recent security tensions suffered by the coup, production rates have taken a steep decline. Production was at 400,000 bpd before the break of civil conflict, and now has been reduced to 170,000 bpd. However, government efforts are directed towards propping up production to 350,000 bpd.

After oil production’s complete healing, some of the economic crises can be overcome, Kuol highlighted.

On speeding up the peace process, Kuol said that the prolonged Machar and President Kiir negotiations had played into escalating street battle, making it more difficult to guarantee an overall peace standing. The coup is still rooted for in some tropical areas.

Pro-Machar forces work independently, even though Machar might have arrived to a peace agreement, the paramilitary forces have not yet been merged and put under the accord’s influence. The militias continue to stage armed operations, Kuol said.

When asked on the foreign support received by Machar forces, Kuol’s response was alarming and short, “unknown.”