April 30, 2014 (JUBA) – A senior member of South Sudan’s ruling SPLM party said targeted individuals sanction threatened by the US and UN would be welcomed, saying “atrocities have been committed” by both sides during the conflict which erupted in December last year.
- Acting SPLM secretary-general Anne Itto speaks to the press in her office the South Sudan capital, Juba, on 30 April 2014 (ST)
Anne Itto, the acting SPLM secretary-general, said on Wednesday that all South Sudanese want peace to be restored in the country.
“It is not a nationwide sanction. It is for selected individuals who are seen to be obstructing peace,” said Itto when asked about the threat of sanctions.
“And as far as [the] SPLM is concerned, so [many] atrocities have been committed and is very important … that people will be held accountable to what they have done,” she said.
Itto’s comments apparently contradict the position taken by president Salva Kiir who reportedly said any sanctions imposed would undermine peace.
US president Barack Obama signed an executive earlier this month threatening to impose an asset freeze on individuals in the government and armed SPLM in Opposition who are seen to be obstructing peace. No names have been released so far.
Last week, the government withdrew treason charges against four senior politicians, including sacked SPLM secretary Pagan Amum in a move Kiir said was in the interest of peace and reconciliation.
However, Itto said victims of the more than four-month-old conflict should also receive justice.
“It is not right to let people just go like that even if we are going to reconcile, we need to know who did what so that if as a nation we choose to forgive him or her, it will be after we have chosen. But we must know who did what? Our people deserve that,” said Itto, adding “Our people want peace. I want peace.”
A fresh wave of ethnic violence has seen civilians targeted in both Unity state and Jonglei recently, attracting international condemnation, with aid agencies warning of a humanitarian catastrophe.
The conflict has pitted government forces loyal to Kiir against rebels aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar who was sacked last July amid worsening internal divisions within the SPLM.
At a news conference on Wednesday at the SPLM secretariat Kiir was congratulated on his appointment of Kuel Aguer as the caretaker governor of Western Bahr El Ghazal state.
Aguer replaces Paul Malong Awan who was elevated to South Sudan army’s chief of general staff last week.
Itto has also commended the released of four political detainees and said she
applauded their quest for peace during a meeting with the group on Tuesday.
A close aide of Kiir’s this week said the president had expressed frustration over the way the US was dealing with his administration.
“There is someone who comes around saying their government recognises the legitimacy of this government and remained ready to work with us, but the moment they leave the country, you see reports threatening sanctions and claims of human right violations. What is this?” the aide quoted the South Sudanese leader as saying.
His comments reportedly came shortly before welcoming the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, who was in the country this week with special envoy for the prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng to investigate the circumstances of an alleged massacre of civilians after rebels retook Unity state capital Bentiu from government troops.