By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan’s government has protested the decision of the United States to impose fresh sanction against two South Sudanese nationals, and cut financial aid to the country, describes as ‘unjustified actions.’
On the 14th December, the president Trump administration slapped sanctions on two South Sudanese nationals and an ex-Israeli military officer for their alleged role in fueling the five-year conflict in the country. The US sanctioned South Sudanese individuals are General Gregory Vasili and businessman Obaj William Olawo. The other, a foreign national identified as Israel Ziv, is an Israeli retired major general.
They have been accused of supplying arms to the government of South Sudan since the conflict erupted in 2013.
The Treasury also reaffirmed an earlier position by national security advisor John Bolton, that no financial assistance would be henceforth extended to South Sudan, ‘unless its morally bankrupt leaders end their internal fighting.’
Addressing a press conference on Monday, ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson Ambassador Mawien Makol said the government welcomes any proposals on improving bilateral relations rather than a sanction, something he see as an obstacle to stability and peace in the world youngest nation.
He said the sanction is designed to undermine the implementation of the peace agreement.
“The government would like to register its concern and protest in the strongest terms against these unjustified unilateral sanctions, and on other USA statement designed to undermine the implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan,” Amb. Makol said. This is against the spirit of the revitalized peace agreement.”
However, the US-based rights group- Sentry has welcomed the decision by the Trump leadership to sanction three individuals for their alleged roles in South Sudan’s conflict.
The Sentry is composed of financial forensic investigators, policy analysts, and regional experts who follow the dirty money and build investigative cases focusing on the corrupt transnational networks most responsible for Africa’s deadliest conflicts.
“This is exactly the way leverage should be built to support peace and fight corruption in Africa. Network sanctions, like the ones imposed by the U.S. government, begin to get at the system of grand corruption that fuels extreme violence in South Sudan that actually makes war profitable,” John Prendegast, the Co-Founder of The Sentry and Founding Director of the Enough Project, said in the statement.
Joshua White, the director of Policy and Analysis at The Sentry said “This action shows a clear understanding of how targeting the financial facilitators and commercial enablers who sustain the looting machine in South Sudan can directly bring meaningful consequences not only to the sanctioned individuals but their businesses as well.”
Despite that, Amb Makol further requests the U.S administration to engage in a more positive manner, then doubling on these threats of sanctions and embargos, which according to him serves no useful purpose, adding that the government stated that it has strived to promote diplomatic dialogue with the United States government.
“The government of the Republic of South Sudan has endeavored to promote diplomatic dialogue with the government of the United States of America, and welcomes any proposals on improving bilateral relations,” he said. “We request the U.S administration to engage in a more positive manner, than doubling on these threats of sanctions and embargos, which serves no useful purpose.”
President Kiir and his designate first vice president Machar signed the Sudan and Uganda’s backing revitalized peace deal on September 12, but the US and other Troika countries did not put its signature on the deal document.
Only China, of recently backed up the power sharing deal between the government and opposition groups, signing a peace deal in Juba earlier this month.
“The action of the United States of America did not append its signature as a witness to the R-ARCSS of 12th September 2018 creates doubts in our minds as to where the U.S actually stand vis-a-vis the peace agreement.”
South Sudan returned into another civil war in 2013, just the two years of her independence from Sudan. President Kiir and rebel leader Machar’s forces are being accusing of committed atrocities respectively. Although the two principals signed several ceasefires but has been violated in a day and 2015 peace deal didn’t halt conflict. According to UN reports, over four-hundreds people were killed and 2.5 million people were displaced from their homes, that means this impunity in South Sudan calls for rigorous measures by the U.S and also international community to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.