South Sudan accuses US of blocking path to country’s peace

JUBA, South Sudan — South Sudan’s government on Wednesday lashed out at the United States after the Trump administration threatened to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid amid the country’s grinding civil war, calling the United States ‘‘a real obstacle’’ toward achieving peace.

The statement from President Salva Kiir’s office also accused the Trump administration of ‘‘naked direct interference’’ in South Sudan’s affairs ahead of peace talks that resume May 17 in neighboring Ethiopia, mediated by a regional bloc.

The US is the top aid donor to South Sudan, but in a sharply worded statement on Tuesday it said it would review its assistance if the East African nation’s conflict grinds on. The US says it has given $3.2 billion in humanitarian assistance since the conflict broke out in December 2013.


The absence of aid would have a devastating impact on more than 7 million South Sudanese facing severe hunger, as aid workers say famine could return.

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International frustration has been rising with South Sudan’s warring sides, especially after a cease-fire late last year was violated within hours. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million people have fled the country, creating Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

While the South Sudan statement accused the armed opposition of blocking the path to peace by putting forward what it called impractical proposals, it noted that Kiir has invited former deputy and opposition leader Riek Machar to return to the country, and has given him 45 days to do so in an attempt to ‘‘reconcile with opposition leaders.’’ Machar fled during renewed fighting in 2016.