America threatens more sanctions against ‘peace spoilers’

The United States under the administration of Joe Biden has threatened to impose additional sanctions on South Sudan, especially on individuals who seek to expand the conflict and derail peace efforts.

In a report presented to Congress Friday, the U.S. State Department warned that Washington would continue to impose costs on those who perpetuate the conflict.

The Biden administration has maintained targeted sanctions on individuals deemed to be working against peace in South Sudan.

In January 2020, the US government sanctioned Vice President Taban Deng Gai on charges of abduction and killing of two government critics.

Taban Deng’s sanction was added to a list of already sanctioned senior government officials, opposition figures, and individuals.

Former minister of Defense Kuol Manyang Juuk and Cabinet Affairs Minister Dr Martin Elia Lomuro were also sanctioned in December 2019 for what the US described as “obstruction of reconciliation efforts in South Sudan”.

The report said that Washington will continue to apply pressure on the senior leadership of South Sudan for them to take concrete measures to bring peace and stability to the country.

“The United States will continue to impose costs on those who perpetuate the conflict in South Sudan and will continue to apply pressure on the senior leadership of South Sudan to take concrete measures to bring peace and stability to the country,” the report said.

It warned that the failure of the government to graduate the unified forces has become a key driver of national and sub-national violence.

“The continued absence of competent, trained, apolitical security forces is a contributing factor to growing levels of sub-national violence and must be addressed for the RTGoNU to deliver its promise of a secure environment for free and fair democratic national elections,” it said.

The report claimed that South Sudan’s leadership’s failure to meet peace deal milestones has contributed to growing sub-national violence across the country.

“Public frustration with the lack of peace agreement implementation is a contributing factor to growing sub-national violence and internal defections, especially within the SPLM-IO,” it said.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but descended into fighting two years later when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader, now first Vice President, Riek Machar clashed in the capital.

The bloodshed spiralled into a civil war that killed 400,000 people.

President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar signed a peace deal in 2018 but hunger and deadly sub-national clashes are still common across the country.

Though the 2018 peace deal in South Sudan halted the worst violence of that war, analysts say there are several unresolved issues, such as stalled reunification of the national army that could plunge the country back into widespread conflict.

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