The United States is prepared to impose sanctions and an arms embargo against South Sudan’s leaders if they fail to cooperate with the recently proposed unity government to halt the crisis in the country, a top US official said on Wednesday.
"We have everything at the table, we are prepared to look at sanctions, we're prepared to look at an arms embargo," US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, told lawmakers.
The country’s rebel leader Riek Machar was sworn in as first vice president on Tuesday after he returned to the capital Juba for the first time since conflict broke out two years ago.
The United States has said Machar's return is a significant step toward the establishment of a unity government.
But Booth said an arms embargo could only be implemented if neighbouring countries cooperated. The UN Security Council has long threatened to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan but veto-power Russia has rejected to support such action.
An effective way to cut weapons supplies to South Sudan, Booth continued, was to impose strict surveillance over its capital expenditure, which would also help focus spending on the neediest.
"We all agree there are far too many arms in South Sudan and they certainly don't need any more," Booth said, "If we can use the financial side to get at preventing additional weapons from getting into South Sudan, that would be an easier way to do it and a more effective way to do it."
"We have already put the existing government and the opposition on notice that we would be looking for some kind of expenditure control mechanism in place, otherwise it would be very difficult to justify putting additional resources in support of stabilisation of the macro economy," Booth said.
President Salva Kiir's sacking of Machar as his deputy ignited a war in December 2013 and has killed thousands and displaced millions in the world's newest country.
The United States on Wednesday pledged an additional $86 million in humanitarian aid to help communities most hurt by the conflict. It has provided an estimated $1.6 billion in assistance to the country since December 2013.
The conflict in South Sudan, whose 2011 secession from Sudan was supported by the United States, has torn apart the worlds youngest country.