The U.N. Security Council adopted a U.S.-sponsored resolution Thursday that threatens an arms embargo on South Sudan and sanctions against six people including the country’s defense chief if fighting doesn’t stop and a political agreement reached.
The resolution received just the minimum 9 “yes” votes, with six countries abstaining: Russia, China, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia.
The resolution asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report by June 30 on whether fighting is taking place and “a viable political agreement” has been reached.
If he reports fighting or lack of an agreement, it says the Security Council will consider imposing an arms embargo or sanctions against the six officials — or both measures within five days.
There were high hopes that South Sudan would have peace and stability after its independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011. But the country plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, started battling those loyal to Riek Machar, his former vice president who is a Nuer.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 didn’t stop the fighting, and a cessation of hostilities agreement this past Dec. 24 was broken within hours.
The African Union’s eight-nation Intergovernmental Authority for Development, which is holding a summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has been trying to revive the failed peace agreement.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council in January that the United States is giving up on South Sudan’s president after backing the country’s independence and investing over $11 billion since 2011. She called Kiir “an unfit partner” in the pursuit of peace and urged an arms embargo on the conflict-racked nation.
The U.S. condemns “in the strongest terms the ongoing fighting” in violation of the 2015 agreement and reiterate its demand for a permanent cease-fire.
“The United States has lost its patience. The status quo is unacceptable. It is long past time for all of us to demand better for the South Sudanese people,” Haley said.
The resolution would renew existing sanctions against South Sudanese officials until July 15 and extend the mandate of the panel of experts monitoring implementation of the measures until Aug. 14
The resolution identifies six officials for a possible asset freeze and travel ban: Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk, former army chief Paul Malong Awan, Minister of Information Michael Makuei Lueth, and army deputy chief of staff for logistics Malek Reuben Riak Rengu, Bieh state Gov. Koang Rambang Chol and cabinet affairs minister Martin Elia Lomuru.
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