The United States Department of State said on Thursday it will impose visa ban on South Sudanese leaders impeding the peace process in the troubled East African nation.
“As the United States re-evaluates its bilateral relationship with the Government of South Sudan, the Department of State will implement visa restrictions under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212(a)(3)(C) against those who undermine or impede the peace process in South Sudan,” the U.S. Department of State said.
“Individuals who have directly or indirectly impeded peace including: violating a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities agreement; violating the UN arms embargo; engaging in corruption that fuels the conflict; suppressing freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, or other abuses or violations; or by failing to abide by signed peace agreements may be subject to visa restrictions. Such visa restrictions could include immediate family members of these individuals,” the statement added.
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The Trump administration said the people of South Sudan have suffered enough while their leaders delay the implementation of a sustainable peace.
“The South Sudanese deserve leaders who are committed to building consensus and willing to compromise for the greater good”.
But one person who seems to have the attention of virtually all the leaders in South Sudan is respected Nigerian Pastor TB Joshua.
T.B. Joshua, the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) based in the commercial city of Lagos was personally received by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit during a visit to the East African nation on 12 November 2019.
Mr. Joshua led the President and government officials in prayer for peace.
The South Sudanese President and First Lady welcomed Joshua upon his arrival at Juba International Airport, alongside government dignitaries.
Salva Kiir was joined by his Vice President, James Wani Igga, and a host of other senior government officials as the Nigerian cleric addressed the nation at the Presidential Palace.
“Time has come for us to put our differences behind us,” Joshua told the thousands of South Sudanese who gathered to hear his message, according to reports.
“This is the voice of God. Our leaders should overcome their division and agree to work together for the good of the country,” he said in an address televised live on South Sudan’s official broadcasting channel SSBC.
Joshua said “peace has no price”, adding that he resolved to visit the nation despite its reputation for ‘instability’ stemming from the civil war that has raged for almost six years.
He described the South Sudanese as “intelligent, hardworking and ambitious people”, explaining how he came across them in every country he travelled to.
“Let us overcome our divisions and allow them to come back and develop their fatherland,” he passionately counseled.
“The issue of this nation is spiritual. We need to tackle it spiritually,” Joshua further admonished, stressing that his message was ‘from God’.
“If I am a prophet, this will not go without fulfilment,” he boldly declared.
Joshua then led the troubled nation in prayer for peace. “Have mercy on the nation. Let the leaders and citizens of South Sudan obtain Your mercy. Thank You for Your compassion and forgiveness,” he prayed, joined fervently by the President and his people.
In his short remarks, President Salva Kiir Mayardit stated that he believed the coming of the cleric would signal a new beginning in the nation.
After the address, Joshua – accompanied by his wife Evelyn and led by a large convoy of South Sudan’s military – visited the President’s personal home and prayed with his family.
TB Joshua, who wields huge levels of influence due to the popularity of his Christian television network Emmanuel TV, made a similar journey to Tanzania four years ago where he was received by President John Magufuli, who describes the cleric as his ‘mentor’.
Other African Presidents to have visited his popular church in Nigeria include the late Ghanaian leader John Atta Mills, former Malawian President Joyce Banda and Liberia’s President George Weah.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, has been in the throes of civil war since 2013 after a fall-out between President Mayardit and his Vice President Riek Machar.
Multiple reconciliatory efforts have been made to restore peace, including a visit to Pope Francis in Vatican City where he famously kissed the feet of both leaders.
Perhaps, rather than applying sanctions, the Trump administration should work with Prophet TB Joshua who has the ears of all the leaders in South Sudan, and knowing Prophet TB Joshua, he might help achieve peace there.