The United States says it is disappointed by South Sudan leaders’ suggested decision to abandon hybrid court which was initially set-up by the African Union (AU) with support from the international community to prosecute those who committed war crimes in a more than two-year old civil war, adding that it rejects any attempt to scrap the proposed court.
The announcement came just days after a joint letter allegedly written by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar appeared in the New York Times.
According to US State Department’s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, the American government is disappointed and upset at Kiir and Machar’s call to scrap the court.
“We’re disappointed; we firmly support the African Union’s efforts to establish this hybrid court. And we expect the parties to fulfill their responsibilities,” Toner said.
The troika countries, namely Norway, the United States (US), and United Kingdom (UK) were instrumental in the formation of the court.
Machar and Kiir’s letter has been met with fierce criticism from South Sudanese as well as international rights organizations with the Human Rights Watch (HRW) accusing the two leaders of ‘self-serving’.
“Their proposal to scrap trials is a self-serving attempt to evade justice,” HRW international justice associate director Elise Keppler said.
In their opinion piece published on Tuesday, Kiir and Machar argued that South Sudan only needs reconciliation not trials, adding that they intend to create a “national truth and reconciliation commission” which will be based on Northern Ireland and South African previous models.
Reactions from South Sudanese around the world indicate that Kiir and Machar’s case against hybrid court is not popular and could backfire.
Meanwhile, the office of VP Machar has issued a statement, saying the letter was a fraud and accused unnamed individuals of fabrication.
Machar’s office is distancing itself from the letter while Kiir’s supporters insist that the joint letter was in fact written by President kiir and First VP Machar. It is not clear which side is telling the truth.