Kerry says the 'world is watching’ South Sudan

Secretary of State John Kerry is pressuring South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit to address the nation’s political situation and “deeply disturbing violence and worsening humanitarian crisis in Jonglei State.”

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“The world is watching to see if South Sudan pursues the path of peace and prosperity, or the tragic path of violence and conflict that has characterized much of its past,” Kerry said, according to a State Department readout of the call.

“I also encouraged him to act expeditiously to protect civilians, end human rights violations, and take urgent steps to cease ethnically motivated violence in Jonglei State.”

Kerry called for Kiir to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and attacks on civilians – including members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

“Lifesaving humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the estimated 100,000 civilians affected by the fighting,” he added.

Kerry urged Kiir to form a new government “quickly and transparently in a manner that respects South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution, and in a way that also reflects the diversity of its people.”

The creation of South Sudan was one of President Obama's most notable foreign policy successes during his first term. Since then, however, the land-locked country of about 8 million has struggled to keep the peace with neighboring Sudan and alleviate widespread poverty.

“I was present for South Sudan's historic, peaceful referendum, and I saw firsthand the hopes of a people for a better future,” Kerry said. “Too much sacrifice has been made to see that effort go backwards.”