South Sudan voices alarm over US warning to businesses

S.Sudan voices alarm over US warning to businesses
Source: Unsplash

South Sudan voiced alarm on Tuesday over a US warning about the risks of business dealings in the troubled country, which is facing a myriad of problems more than a decade after independence.

The United States and South Sudan’s other international partners have been piling pressure on its leaders over their failure to meet a raft of deadlines in the country’s transition process.

The government in Juba said it was “seriously alarmed” by the advisory issued on Monday to US businesses in South Sudan.

The US Departments of State, Commerce and Labor warned of “the growing reputational, financial and legal risks” to transactions linked to the government or companies controlled by officials’ families.

The advisory called on US businesses to do “due diligence on corruption and human rights issues” and to avoid any dealings that involve South Sudanese officials who are under sanctions.

And it faulted the transitional government for its “failure to adhere to its own laws” including on transparency over oil revenue.

Business dealings could “adversely impact US businesses, individuals, other persons and their operations in South Sudan and the region,” it said.Two-way trade totalled $88 million in 2019 according to US data.

South Sudan’s foreign ministry said it respected the right of the US to issue such advisories and acknowledged challenges in the government’s efforts to implement a 2018 peace agreement, particularly in economic reforms and public financial management.

But it added: “The government believes that cooperation and partnership are more effective than confrontation and isolation in achieving mutual interests and objectives.”

Since becoming the world’s youngest nation in 2011 when it achieved independence from Sudan, South Sudan has been bedevilled by crises including a five-year civil war that cost nearly 400,000 lives before a 2018 peace deal was signed.

But the fragile unity government led by President Salva Kiir and his rival and deputy Riek Machar has largely failed to deliver on its promises.

Kiir has vowed to hold South Sudan’s first ever presidential poll by the end of 2024 after the government a year ago controversially extended the transition period outlined in the peace deal.

But Western powers accuse him and Machar of dragging their heels in order to cling on to power in one of the poorest and most corrupt countries on the planet.

“There has been neither any meaningful progress since (the extension) nor evidence of political will,” the so-called Troika of the United States, Britain and Norway said last week.

“Deadline after deadline has been missed, laws remain unpassed, commissions unformed and implementation bodies unfunded.”

The United States has halted support for the peace process but maintains humanitarian aid to the country, where millions are facing severe food insecurity.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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