US, EU threaten sanctions for South Sudan warring parties
(ADDIS ABABA) - South Sudan's government and rebel forces face possible sanctions if they fail to progress with peace talks and stick to a ceasefire deal, United States and European Union envoys warned Wednesday.
The European Union "stands ready to consider targeted restricted measures against individuals obstructing the political process," EU envoy Alexander Rondos told reporters.
US envoy Donald Booth, speaking alongside him, said Washington was also "considering what measures might be taken."
Peace talks mediated by the East African IGAD-bloc between the government and rebels are due to resume Thursday in Ethiopia, but have so far made little if any progress.
South Sudan's government has been at war with rebel groups since December 15, when a clash between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar snowballed into full-scale fighting.
Despite the brutal suffering the war has caused -- displacing nearly one million people -- both sides have refused to lay down their arms, violating a ceasefire deal signed in January.
"The United States, the United Kingdom, Norway and the European Union expect the government of South Sudan and other South Sudanese parties to engage constructively in IGAD-led negotiations," Booth said, reading from a joint statement.
"If the government or any other actor tries to undermine the peace process and rebuff the IGAD heads of state, they will face consequences."
More than 930,000 civilians have fled their homes since fighting began, including over quarter of a million leaving for neighbouring nations as refugees, according to the United Nations.
"We expect all the parties to this conflict to support and comply with everything that they have already agreed to," Rondos said.
"Patience is beginning to run a little thin with parties to this conflict who think that they can toy with their own agreements and with their neighbours," he said, warning of the "great cost" of the "lives of their own citizens".