President Salva Kiir has called on member countries of the African Union to help in lifting US sanctions against South Sudan’s leaders.
In January 2020, the Trump administration sanctioned First Vice President Taban Deng Gai on charges of abduction and killing of two government critics.
Taban Deng’s sanction adds to a list of already sanctioned senior government officials, opposition figures and individuals.
Minister of Defense Kuol Manyang Juuk and Cabinet Affairs Minister Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro were also sanctioned in December 2019 for what the US described as “obstruction of reconciliation efforts in South Sudan”.
The country’s leaders are struggling to implement the revitalized peace agreement which was signed in September 2018.
The formation of a planned unity government has already been postponed twice over the slow implementation of pre-transitional arrangements.
The government and opposition leaders have less than 2 weeks to form a unity government as per the extended pre-transitional period timeline.
The U.S government has also sanctioned Deputy Defense Minister Malek Reuben Riak, ex-army chief Gen. Paul Malong Awan, and Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth – all for their alleged related roles in dragging the peace process.
According to the Trump administration, the individuals have directly or indirectly impeded peace, including violating a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities agreement, violating the UN arms embargo, and engaging in corruption that fuels the conflict in the country.
President Kiir’s administration has often defended those accused of impeding peace.
The Minister of Information, Michael Makuei, who is one of the senior cabinet ministers sanctioned, had said the sanctions were not affecting the performances of the government officials.
However, speaking during the African Union heads of State summit in Addis Ababa on Monday, President Kiir said sanctions are harmful to the peace process.
“Such unilateral sanctions are counterproductive to the spirit of peace deal implementation and undermine the sovereignty of African countries,” Kiir argued.
He appealed to the continent to help in lifting the individual sanctions imposed by the U.S
“I call upon the African Union to stand firm against such sanctions and take appropriate measures toward lifting them to enable the country to focus on the sustainability of peace.”
The US ambassador in Juba, Thomas Hushek, said in December 2019 that removal of individual sanctions applies to persons who take concrete and meaningful actions to form a unity government in line with the agreed-upon terms of the peace agreement.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated Latjor State Governor General Gathoth Gatkouth was sanctioned by the U.S government for the alleged related roles in dragging the peace process. General Gathoth Gatkouth was NOT sanctioned by the U.S government. We apologize for this.
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