Crisis forces UN to threaten sanctions
The leaders of South Sudan have been given a severe warning to settle their differences or risk facing possible sanctions. The move comes after political leaders failed once more to move the peace process forward.
On Sunday South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said in a speech that his arch rival and former Vice-President Riek Machar will not be allowed to hold a top role in any future transitional government. The President said “My current Vice-President, James Wani Igga, will remain the First Vice-President and I will make Riek my Second Vice-President if he wants to be in my government. But if he doesn’t want, he must stay out and wait for elections”.
As many as 10,000 people have been killed in the violence which flared up in December last year. A visit by a United Security Council delegation yesterday made the threat about sanctions as they reported that both sides appeared to be arming themselves for another round of fighting even though a ceasefire agreement made on 9th May was supposed to be in place. Both sides had agreed to seek a political solution through an interim administration with the formation of such a government deadline being 10th August.
Several meetings have had to be abandoned as both sides argued over who should attend and who should be involved in the interim administration.
Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said yesterday that 50,000 children were in danger of dying through malnutrition over the next few months. More than one million people have been displaced as a result of the fighting and nearly half a million have left the country to neighbouring countries. The United States has said that it will provide $180 million in food aid.
The official press release as published on the United Nations News Centre website is as follows:
“In South Sudan, Security Council warns sanctions possible against ‘spoilers’
12 August 2014 – On a visit to South Sudan, the United Nations Security Council today reiterated that it is ready to impose sanctions against anyone who undermines the ongoing peace talks to stop the conflict which has uprooted some 1.5 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease.
Speaking to the press in the capital Juba, Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of the United Kingdom, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council for August, reread a statement in which the members on Friday had expressed readiness to consider “all appropriate measures” against those who undermine the peace, stability and security of the country.
“This is a very clear statement by all 15 members of the Security Council that there will be consequences for those who try to undermine agreements that are reached in the Addis Ababa talks,” Mr. Grant said, speaking alongside Foreign Minister Barbaba Marial Benjamin.
The Addis Ababa talks are being facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Mr. Grant is joined on the visit – which also includes stops in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Somalia – by Ambassadors Eugene Richard of Rwanda and Samantha Power of the United States.
Earlier today, Security Council representatives met with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and members of the Council of Ministers.
“They were good meetings – open, instructive and candid,” Mr. Richard said. He added that the Council was able to express its concern for the continued suffering of the people, while also listening to the views of the Government.
The Ambassadors are due to meet tomorrow with former Vice President Riek Machar.
Political infighting between President Kiir and Mr. Machar started in mid-December 2013 and has since turned into a full-fledged conflict that also sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to UN peacekeeping bases around the country.
Addressing the press, Ms. Power called this an “emergency visit” to underscore to the South Sudanese leadership the importance of compliance with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar had signed on 23 January.
The visit is also meant to highlight the importance of organizing a governing body in the run-up to the election scheduled for next year. The deadline for organizing such a body passed on Sunday.
“The international community will not tolerate the violation of the secession of hostility and the people who spoil the peace agreement people who commit growth violation of human rights must be held accountable,” Ms. Power said.
The Security Council, in a statement last week, strongly condemned reports of ongoing human rights violations and abuses of international humanitarian law, including those involving extrajudicial killings, ethnically targeted violence, sexual and gender-based violence, recruitment and use of children, and enforced disappearances, among others.
Following the press conference, the Ambassadors met with displaced persons in a UN Protection of Civilians site in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in the north of the country.
The Ambassadors said they were “distressed and angry” by what they saw, according to UNIFEED.
“One of the reasons that we have come to South Sudan is because we are responsible for peace and security across the world and we have not seen peace and security in this country,” said Mr. Grant.
The Council representatives said they were alarmed by reports that arms were coming into South Sudan to set the stage for more battles when the dry season begins, UNIFEED reported.”