The United States has sanctioned two South Sudanese cabinet ministers for what it describes as “expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan including by obstructing the reconciliation process or peace talks.”
The two are Minister of Defense, Kuol Manyang Juuk and Dr. Martin Elia Lomoro, Minister of Cabinet Affairs.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Elia and Kuol are responsible for obstructing reconciliation efforts in South Sudan.
The two were first black-listed by America in 2017 and were to be considered for sanctions by the UN Security Council.
America says the ministers perpetuated the conflict to cement the political status quo, fueling South Sudan’s war economy.
In a statement issued today, the Treasury department specifically accuses Defense Minister Kuol Manyang of failing “to remove military forces from the battlefield as agreed, fomented violence with rival tribes.”
It notes that Elia Lomoro allegedly recruits and organizes local militias to conduct attacks against opposition forces in South Sudan.
Elia and Kuol are also said to have allegedly perpetuated the conflict in South Sudan for their enrichment.
“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 Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Justin Muzinich.
John Prendergast, the Co-Founder of The Sentry, a U.S-based lobby group welcomed the targeted sanctions.
“These actions by the Treasury Department are a critical signal to the warring parties that the usual obstruction of the peace process is no longer acceptable,” he said.
Mr. Prendergast encouraged the U.S to build more significant leverage ahead of the February deadline and called on the international community to increase the pressure on any spoilers if upcoming negotiations fail to generate progress on the issue of the number and boundaries of State borders or other contentious questions.
“The United States and Europe should use targeted financial measures accompanied by a diplomatic surge to sway the calculations of South Sudanese officials across the political divide,” he added.
Last month, President Salva Kiir and the main opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, extended the pre-transitional period for 100 days to allow for the implementation of critical security arrangements, and determine the number and boundaries of the States.
“A little over 30 days into the extended pre-transition period, the United States has yet to see concrete steps by the GoSS to create the political and security conditions conducive to formation of a unity government and adequate implementation of the peace deal,” notes the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The Trump administration affirmed that it will continue to apply pressure on the senior leadership of South Sudan to take concrete measures to bring peace and stability to the country.
It, however, says the sanctions are not permanent since they are “intended to bring about a positive change of behavior.”
The removal of sanctions is available for persons…who take concrete and meaningful actions to form a unity government in line with the agreed-upon terms of the peace agreement, refuse to take part in human rights violations or abuse, speak out against abuses committed by both the government and opposition, and combat corruption in and related to South Sudan,” reads the statement.
Here are the specifics of the sanctions against the two South Sudanese cabinet ministers:
MARTIN ELIA LOMURO
Martin Elia Lomuro (Lomuro), along with Michael Makuei Lueth, whom OFAC sanctioned in September 2017, were reportedly instrumental to Kiir’s initial unwillingness to sign a peace agreement in August 2015.
In late 2016, Lomuro stated that the GoSS would never allow the arrival of additional peacekeepers, which it had initially promised to accept, planning to negotiate the specifics of the deployment once the issue was dropped.
Lomuro, along with Kuol Manyang Juuk, has been identified as a key minister opposing the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, which the parties committed to establish to investigate and try those responsible for war crimes and other serious crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence, since December 2013.
As of late 2019, Lomuro and another South Sudanese government official were reportedly responsible for actively recruiting and organizing local militias used to conduct attacks against opposition forces in South Sudan.
Lomuro is being designated for being responsible for or complicit in or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that have the purpose or effect of expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan or obstructing reconciliation or peace talks or processes.
KUOL MANYANG JUUK
In 2017, a group of senior South Sudanese officials led by Kuol Manyang Juuk (Juuk) decided to use Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) troops, artillery, and other heavy weapons to strengthen local fighters against a rival tribe.Juuk reportedly admitted that he had mobilized the SPLA to take part in attacks against the rival as it was his duty to protect his tribe.
Juuk, along with Lomuro, has been identified as a key minister opposing the Hybrid Court for South Sudan. As of late 2018, Juuk and other senior South Sudanese government officials were overseeing an effort to train tribal militias to prepare for the possibility of renewed violence upon the return of Machar to South Sudan.
Juuk is being designated for being responsible for or complicit in or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that have the purpose or effect of expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan or obstructing reconciliation or peace talks or processes.
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