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EU calls for expanded arms embargo on S. Sudan

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December 17, 2014 (JUBA) – The European Union has slapped an arms embargo on South Sudan over its failure to resolve the country’s ongoing conflict, calling on the international community to also consider taking tougher action.

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South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a peace deal in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 9 May 2014 aimed at resolving conflict in the country peacefully (Photo: Reuters)

Monday’s resolution comes 12 months after a political dispute plunged the country into violence.

“Tougher action by the international community as a whole, including regional partners, is needed to press all sides in the conflict to pursue the path of peaceful negotiation to a lasting settlement to their political differences in the primary interest of the South Sudanese population,” the text of the resolution reads in part.

Stefano De Leo, the leader of the EU delegation to South Sudan, said the measure was necessary to apply more pressure on South Sudanese leaders to redirect resources to development in the young nation rather than stockpiling weapons of war.

“More arms [means] more violence [and when] fewer arms are in the country, the less violence is to be foreseen,” De Leo told reporters in the capital, Juba, on Tuesday following a meeting of EU foreign minsters in backed the resolution.

“The European Union foreign ministers call on the international community to consider an adaptation of [an] arms embargo if necessary to help the peace process,” he added.

The EU also indicated it is prepared to take further targeted restrictive measures against those individuals obstructing the peace process in South Sudan.

“It is a measure that hasn’t to be taken [yet], but if necessary, if the peace talks are not going on well, it’s something that has to happen to stop violence,” said De Leo.

“What is important to say in this point is that these restrictive measures have to be taken against those people or institutions that are creating obstacles to the negotiations or who are violating the cessation of hostilities,” he added.

The EU said that the situation in South Sudan has become “one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world”, saying it remained deeply concerned that the country’s wealth is being channelled for the purchase of arms while its citizens remain in dire need of food, clean water and medication.

In its 15 December resolution, the EU said it was “dismayed” by the slow pace of negotiations, accusing both the government and the opposition of failing to engage in the process in good faith.

“Both sides have undermined the process by failing to honour their commitments and excluding others from negotiations, while regularly breaching the cessation of hostilities agreement and continuing their hostilities on the ground,” the resolution notes.

“It is vital that the parties respect their commitments and desist from any planned offensives.”

SOUTH SUDAN SLAMS SANCTIONS

Meanwhile, the South Sudanese government has lashed out over the EU’s proposed sanctions on individuals found to be obstructing efforts to reach a political settlement to the crisis, saying such measures “defy all common sense”.

Echoing earlier comments made by several high-level government and military officials, deputy foreign affairs minister Peter Bashir Gbandi claimed such penalties would seriously demoralise and weaken peace efforts.

“I think it would be unwise for any government and international organisation to blame an elected government on equal footing with the rebels. The practice of apportioning blame and providing the same treatment with those who have failed to move forward is not part of the solution, rather, it rewards those attempting to blame others,” he said.

“We reject sanctions in any of our relationships, in particular those sanctions which are now being sponsored by the European Union, which defy all common sense regarding the current crisis,” he added.

He said proposed sanctions showed a lack of understanding regarding the genesis of this conflict and were motivated out of failed “geopolitical ambitions”.

Gbandi also accused the international community of hypocrisy, saying those attempting to impose sanctions are the same governments that that have historically launched wars of conquest and intervened in the internal affairs of sovereign countries to “provoke the destabilisation of governments that don’t go along with their interests of domination”.

However, De Leo said South Sudan’s warring parties have a duty to resolve the conflict for the benefit of its citizens and that an arms embargo is necessary to stem the tide of violence.

HUMANITARIAN ROLE

The EU, along with the United States and Norway, have been the leading humanitarian donors to South Sudan since the conflict broke out, with aid efforts helping to avert a famine.

The EU also provides funds to regional mediated peace talks in Ethiopia, as well as to education, health and agricultural projects in the country.

At least 2.5 million people in South Sudan are expected to face severe food shortages in the coming months and the EU said it remained particularly concerned at the continued hindrance of international humanitarian assistance.

CALLS GROW FOR EMBARGO

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) continues to mull sanctions and an arms embargo on South Sudan amid outrage amid renewed hostilities between the warring parties.

Last month, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating peace negotiations in Ethiopia, warned it was prepared to deploy troops to South Sudan to intervene in the internal conflict should fighting continue and both sides fail to sign a peace agreement soon.

In a strongly worded statement following the 28th extraordinary summit by IGAD heads of state and government, the regional bloc also threatened sanctions, ranging from assets freezes, travel bans within the region and an arms embargo.

In an open letter to the UNSC on 9 December, US-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (UNSC) called for an immediate arms embargo and for a panel of experts to be formed to monitor and report on the implementation of the embargo.

It said such measures must remain in place “until credible efforts are made to end abuses against civilians, including through providing justice for war crimes and potential crimes against humanity”.

“Rearmament – at least by government forces – has already taken place and time has already been lost. Even if a peace deal is reached, further violence and abuse against civilians are likely,” HRW said.

“More than condemnation is needed.”

Last month, more than 50 South Sudanese and international humanitarian and activist groups petitioned the region’s leaders to call on the UNSC to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan.

The EU imposed targeted sanctions on two military officers from both sides of the conflict in July.

The US and Canada also imposed targeted sanctions on individuals deemed to be inflaming tensions.

The EU earlier imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan in 2011 under a different context.

South Sudan’s conflict was initially triggered by a political dispute within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and has sparked a wave of violence across the country as loyalties divided along tribal lines.

The fighting has pitted government troops loyal to president Salva Kiir, who hails from the Dinka tribe, against rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar, a Nuer.

Tens of thousands of people have died, while some two million have been displaced.

Both sides stand accused of committing appalling human rights violations that may amount to war crimes.

(ST)

*Full text of the EU resolution on 15 December 2014

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  • 18 December 2014 06:42, by Chol A.

    Will such move help to solve problems? Let’s wait and see, but as far we know rebels will be fool enough to lounch more attack assuming that embargo was imposes to government which they think it weaken SPLA but you will assumpt risk. Those who propose sanction against Southern Sudan are fueling this conflict to last longer like in old Sudan, Somalia and Libyia.

    repondre message

    • 18 December 2014 07:25, by dinkdong

      Chol,

      Nothing is solving the problem. So let those sons of b!+@#*$ from all sides, that ruined S. Sudan, be sanction.

      Furthermore, let’s restrain from supporting any side. Non of the side - whether Kiir’s or Riek’s - is good to us (S. Sudanese) anymore.

      repondre message

      • 18 December 2014 15:30, by Hardlinner

        Dingdong, the supporters at both sides lack logical thinking capacity. If they had that missing special senses, I’m pretty sure we won’t been where we are now. Kiir and riek can never fight themselves one on one, because they hv idiots to support their interest. we should Say no to war from both end. I know some people do not like war, but if impose on them, they have right to fight back.

        repondre message

        • 19 December 2014 00:50, by dinkdong

          Thanks Hardlinner! You made it clear.

          repondre message

  • 18 December 2014 12:45, by Ayuen deng

    International community should support elected president of south Sudan to take rebels by their horns,after all is with rebels.

    repondre message

  • 18 December 2014 14:45, by Hardlinner

    Does EU have any credibility to talk of embargo. They are criminals with self Centred interest. Look at what you have done in Ukraine. Your claims are non logical and serve no one other than yourself.

    repondre message

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