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Investigate financially exposed S. Sudanese individuals: report

December 15, 2015 (JUBA) – Assets of politically and financially exposed South Sudanese at the highest level should be the investigated to minimize any likely impact they could have on the implementation of the August peace accord, a new report said.

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US peace activist John Prendergast speaking to senior South Sudan army officers during his visit to Bor February 9, 2014 (Photo: Larco Lomoyat)

The report by Enough Project exposes the political and financial interests that pose the most significant threat to peace.

Entitled “Deadly enterprise: Dismantling South Sudan’s War Economy and Countering Potential Spoilers, it says networks of political and business elites have profited from the war and must be effectively targeted and dismantled to save South Sudan’s imperiled peace deal.

The report reportedly based its findings on extensive research and interviews conducted between July and November 2015 in Juba, Bentiu and Malakal in South Sudan as well as in Ethiopia and Kenya.

A number of people, inclusion government and opposition officials, government and rebel commanders, low-level fighters on both sides, civilians displaced by the conflict, civil society leaders, academics, economists, geologists, United Nations officials and international experts on specific sectors of the war economy were interviewed.

“The losses for South Sudan’s people have been too devastating to simply allow a return to the governing status quo. If South Sudan’s leaders fail to undertake the necessary political and economic reforms laid out in the peace agreement, it is hard to imagine how there will ever be real stability,” said Justine Fleischner, an analyst with Enough Project.

“South Sudan’s leaders owe it to their own citizens to finally deliver on the promises made at independence,” he added.

Signed with the help of regional and international partners, South Sudan’s compromise peace deal provides the most ideal remedy to the nation’s worst ever violence since it seceded from Sudan in 2011.

Tens of thousands of people were killed and nearly two million displaced as forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those allied to his ex-deputy, Riek Machar battled for control of the oil-rich nation.

John Prendergast, a director at Enough Project, said the international community must deploy whatever tools it has at its disposal to ensure stolen assets are returned and economic crimes prosecuted.

“Regional and global asset freezes and travel bans should target those individuals that pursue their own political or economic gain at the expense of the South Sudanese people,” said Predergast.

The report also suggests a number of policy tools and interventions seeking to strengthen financial pressure and support accountability, and transparency efforts key to ending impunity for economic crimes.

The United States-based Enough project, in its report, recommended, among others, levying and implementing sanctions that effectively target South Sudanese actors who threaten peace and security requires attention to sanctions enforcement at regional level.

"To prevent potential South Sudanese spoilers from seeking state sponsors in the region, the United States and other international partners must maintain diplomatic pressure on regional states, including Kenya, where significant South Sudanese assets are held,” it says.

(ST)