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South Sudan Ruling Party Official Urges More Targeted Sanctions

Rebel fighters hold up their rifles as they walk in front of a bushfire in a rebel controlled territory in Upper Nile State, South Sudan, Feb. 13, 2014.

Rebel fighters hold up their rifles as they walk in front of a bushfire in a rebel controlled territory in Upper Nile State, South Sudan, Feb. 13, 2014.

A leading member of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has called on the international community to follow America’s lead by putting additional pressure on the government in Juba in a bid to help quickly resolve that country’s conflict.

Rebecca Nyandeng, widow of SPLM founder, the late John Garang welcomed President Barack Obama’s executive order that paved the way for U.S. sanctions on anyone threatening the stability of South Sudan, as well as those committing human-rights abuses.

“Somebody like me would welcome what President Obama did, because it is us in Juba who pushed the international community so hard for us being stubborn not to accept to reach an agreement, while the people of South Sudan are yearning for that,” said Nyandeng. “Those people who are suffering under the trees, those in refugee camps, none of us as leaders are thinking about them, and the raining season is almost here.”

But in reaction to Obama’s executive order, the administration in Juba accused the United States of meddling in its internal affairs by trying to influence the ongoing peace negotiations in Ethiopia aimed to resolve South Sudan’s security crisis.

Nyandeng disagreed that the US is meddling in South Sudan’s internal affairs.

“They always criticize anybody who tells them that what [they] are doing is wrong. They criticized the UN and the representative of the UN Secretary General. They don’t want to hear anybody telling them that they are making a mistake,” said Nyandeng.

She expressed regret about allegations of ongoing human rights violations due to the conflict.

Nyandeng called for more targeted sanctions to serve as an incentive for the leaders in Juba to find a solution to the conflict.

“Individual sanctions [are] very important, because the government is doing what they wish. If there is no pressure they can be stubborn at the talks in Addis Ababa [Ethiopia]. But if there is international pressure, I think they would listen,” said Nyandeng.

Some observers have called for targeted sanctions on officials of both the government as well as rebels allied to former vice president Riek Marchar.

Nyandeng however says additional sanctions on senior officials of the administration are likely to expedite the peace negotiations.

“The government has been stubborn because the international community [called] for the release of all political detainees, but they only released seven and left four with one under house arrest. They are also denying the seven released detainees from participating in the negotiations and this is where the problem comes from,” said Nyandeng.

She says it is the responsibility of President Salva Kiir’s government to reach a negotiated settlement with the rebels as part of its mandate to protect civilians as enshrined in the constitution

The conflict in South Sudan started when the government accused former vice president Riek Machar of plotting to overthrow President Kiir’s administration. Machar denies the accusation.