- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2015

The State Department on Friday slammed the warring leaders of South Sudan, saying they had “failed the people…by refusing to make the compromises necessary for peace.”

“We strongly condemn the lack of political leadership to resolve this man-made conflict that has exacted a terrible cost over the past nearly 15 months,” said agency spokeswoman Marie Harf.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, achieved its independence from Sudan in 2011. Ironically, leaders said they wanted to secede due to the violence that was running rampant in Sudan.

But in Dec. 2013, violence erupted in South Sudan itself between factions led by President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.

The United Nations estimates that the civil war has already cost tens of thousands of lives, and displaced more than two million refugees trying to flee the violence.

A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the leader of the international body “urges both parties to refrain from any attempt to escalate the conflict and reiterates that there can be no military solution or alternative to a negotiated settlement.”

SEE ALSO: Marie Harf: U.S., allies must also focus on Joseph Kony’s ‘Christian militant’ group

Peace talks have been mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, a north-east African coalition.

Ms. Harf promised that the UN Security Council would be keeping a close eye on the fighting.

“The entire region is facing economic, security, and humanitarian costs from this conflict,” she said. “There is no excuse for further fighting, and we will ensure that those who commit acts of violence — or otherwise undermine efforts toward peace — are held accountable.”

• Phillip Swarts can be reached at pswarts@washingtontimes.com.

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