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Advocacy group wants chiefs of S. Sudan rival forces sanctioned

January 25, 2018 (JUBA)- A US-based advocacy has proposed that sanctions be imposed on chiefs of staff from the rival forces involved in South Sudan’s conflict, citing violation of the ceasefire deal signed in December last year.

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US activist John Prendergast of the Enough Project speaks in Washington at the National Press Club studios on 13 October 2013 (Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Enough Project, in a policy brief issued Thursday, said the African Union’s reluctance to follow through on threats to hold spoilers accountable is contributing to fueling the civil war in South Sudan.

The brief says the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTTSAMM), a body authorized to monitor compliance with the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement, has recorded ceasefire violations by troops from the coalition government led by President Salva Kiir and the armed opposition under allied to Riek Machar on multiple locations across the country.

In these violations, according to the policy brief, women, children, and the elderly have been killed, but stressed that both the government and the armed opposition forces deny their role in these violations and have accused each other of violating the CoH.

“To end this charade, the African Union should levy sanctions against leaders with command and control responsibilities on both sides. In this regard, the chief of defense staff for the South Sudan army, Lt. Gen. James Ajongo, should be held responsible for the actions of his troops. Similarly, the SPLM-IO’s chief of defense staff, Lt. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, should face further sanctions, in addition to sanctions imposed on him by the U.N. Security Council in 2015,” it stated.

It adds, “Beyond these two figures, other military and political officials who share decision-making responsibilities with Ajongo and Gatwech should also be subject to targeted sanctions, visa bans, and investigations into money laundering through regional banking institutions”.

The policy brief, released ahead the resumption of the revitalization forum initiated by the regional bloc (IGAD), calls for expanding sanctions to cover the entire network of people and officials around the principals who failed to implement the deal, despite assurances of commitment from their leaders when peace deals are signed.

“And to be clear, sanctioning one or two people every six months will have no impact on the warring parties’ calculations. For leverage to be built and pressure to be meaningful, entire networks around these key officials need to be sanctioned, and a number of them at once to demonstrate seriousness of purpose,” it noted.

The AU, the US-based advocacy group further recommended, should make a bold statement in support of peace should it impose network sanctions on key leaders and their commercial facilitators inside and outside South Sudan, as these leaders who are destroying the country through war are the same leaders who are bankrupting it through their looting of state assets and natural resources.

“In support, IGAD should continue to encourage the African Union’s Peace and Security Council to levy sanctions”, it further observed.

The continental body, according to Enough Project, should impose specific consequences on “spoilers” of South Sudan’s peace process, in form of asset freezes, travel bans, anti-money laundering investigations, an arms embargo, and other measures that demonstrate Africa’s seriousness about peace in the young nation.

A top US diplomat on Wednesday called for an arms embargo on South Sudan after its warring parties failed to honour a ceasefire agreement signed late last year.

Addressing the United Nations Security Council, the US ambassador Nikki Haley to the UN criticized the President Salva Kiir-led coalition government of failing to lead efforts to end the civil war.

“The time has come to acknowledge the hard reality – that the leaders of South Sudan are not just failing their people, they are betraying them,” she told a council meeting on South Sudan.

The 15-member Security Council considers the revitalization of the peace process initiated by IGAD as an opportunity to end the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.

In March last year, a UN panel of experts, in a report, called for an arms embargo on South Sudan after it emerged that its government was spending oil revenue on weapons as its citizens faced starvation. The call was, however, opposed by China and Russia, insisting regional nations must play a key role in resolving the problem.

(ST)