US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his arch-rival Riek Machar will face individual sanctions if they do not deliver on a peace deal.
Speaking during a US House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on the US State Department’s budget, Kerry said "This is a critical moment for South Sudan's survival and it's important for people who hold themselves up to be leaders to actually lead.”
"We're very serious about that," he said.
Both sides in the South Sudanese conflict, under pressure from Washington, the United Nations and other powers, signed an initial peace deal in August and agreed to share out ministerial positions in January. But that deal has broken down repeatedly.
A report released by the United Nations said both leaders qualified for sanctions over atrocities in the conflict.
However, earlier this month, Kiir gave Machar his old job back as deputy leader, raising hopes of a breakthrough after months of troubled negotiations and failed ceasefire agreements.
Kiir sacked Machar as vice president in 2013, exacerbating a political feud that erupted into fighting between soldiers loyal to both leaders in Juba.
The fighting has so far killed thousands and displaced 2.3 million people since late 2013. The war has also devastated South Sudan's economy, slashing the oil production that funds most public spending.