The United States’ ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, visited Juba on Wednesday, seeking a solution to a nearly four-year conflict that has created a devastating humanitarian crisis.
Haley, the most senior official sent to Africa by the Trump administration, is on a tour that has also taken her to Ethiopia and will include the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After meeting with President Salva Kiir, Haley said the US was disappointed with the state of South Sudan, after investing $11 billion (nine billion euros) in the country under Kiir’s leadership.
“We are disappointed by what we are seeing, this is not what we thought we were investing in. What we thought we were investing in is a free and fair society where people could be safe, and South Sudan is the opposite of that,” Haley told local radio.
“But we are not going to give up on the South Sudanese people, we are here to fight for them, we are here to help, to do whatever we have to to make peace and security become a permanent part of South Sudan,” she added.
There was no comment from Kiir after the meeting.
Haley said last month she wanted to salvage a tattered 2015 peace deal that collapsed in July last year, as regional mediators launch a fresh bid to “revitalise” the agreement.
South Sudan won independence in 2011. However, war erupted in December 2013 when Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup.
Initially, a war pitting ethnic Dinka supporters of Kiir against Machar’s Nuer people, the conflict has since metastasized to include different groups and local interests.
Last week the regional Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said it had finished consultations with a wide range of parties and is expected to announce a new round of peace talks.
Brian Adeba of the Enough Project advocacy group that closely follows the South Sudan conflict, told AFP that the new peace push came as the government was particularly “intransigent to peace”.
“It believes it has won the war, it has taken a lot of territory and the opposition is not in a position to retaliate,” he said.