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U.S. sanctions South Sudan’s Defense, Cabinet Affairs ministers over peace

December 16, 2019 (WASHINGTON) – The United States government has imposed individual sanctions on two South Sudanese officials for expanding or extending the country’s conflict.

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South Sudan’s defence minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, on 4 September 2010 (ST)

The U.S. Treasury, in a statement issued on Monday, said the Cabinet Affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro and his Defence and Veteran Affairs counterpart, Kuol Manyang Juuk are obstructing the peace process.

According to the US government, Lomuro has been responsible for actively recruiting and organizing local militias to conduct attacks against opposition forces in South Sudan. On the other hand, Juuk is said to have failed to remove military forces from the battlefield as agreed, fomented violence with rival tribes, and oversaw the training of tribal militias to prepare for the possibility of renewed violence.

“These ministers perpetuated the conflict to cement the political status quo, fueling South Sudan’s war economy,” it further stressed.

The Trump administration said it will not hesitate to target those who have perpetuated the conflict in South Sudan and will continue to apply pressure on the country’s senior leadership to take concrete measures to bring peace and stability to the country.

“The United States stands by the people of South Sudan who continue to suffer under this political instability that has led to thousands of deaths. The South Sudanese deserve leaders who are committed to laying the groundwork for a successful, peaceful political transition,” said the Treasury’s deputy secretary, Justin Muzinich.

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo welcomed the move on officials attempting to threaten the ongoing peace process.

“These actions rob South Sudan of the security, stability and confidence in a government that is needed to negotiate and implement a lasting peace,” he tweeted Monday.

John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry, said the latest actions by the U.S. are a critical signal to the warring parties that the usual obstruction of the peace process is no longer acceptable.

“The international community should accelerate preparations to dramatically increase the pressure on any spoilers in the event that upcoming negotiations fail to generate progress on the issue of state borders or other contentious questions,” he said.

The State Department warned that "other measures" would be imposed against any who seek to expand the conflict and derail peace efforts in South Sudan.

The latest sanctions come barely a week after the U.S. vowed to implement visa restrictions against individuals who undermine the peace process in South Sudan.

South Sudan descended into civil war in mid-December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, allegations the latter denied.

In September last year, the country’s rival factions signed a revitalized peace deal to end the civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.