US scolds ally South Sudan over expulsion of UN human rights official

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The birth of South Sudan — the world's newest country — last year out of the embers of Sudan's two-decade civil war was seen as a major victory for the United States, which championed the majority-Christian country's secession from Muslim Sudan.

“I am confident that the bonds of friendship between South Sudan and the United States will only deepen in the years to come,” Obama said in a statement at the time. “Together, we can ensure that today marks another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward opportunity, democracy and justice”.

However, relations quickly soured after reports that south Sudanese rebels were still fighting across the border. The two countries reached a border security agreement, and Sudan resumed oil imports from South Sudan in September after the Obama administration criticized both parties and the United Nations threatened sanctions.

“The United States fully supports UNMISS and its efforts to strengthen government institutions, to provide humanitarian relief, and to monitor, mitigate, and prevent conflict throughout South Sudan,” Toner added. “Human rights monitoring, investigation and reporting are core elements of the UNMISS mandate. It is important that the Mission’s Human Rights Officers be allowed to carry out this work without fear of reprisal or expulsion. Fostering deeper respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights will strengthen South Sudan’s democratic, civic, and national identity, and we encourage further progress in that regard.”