South Sudan warns U.N. that sanctions could fuel confrontation
South Sudan warned the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday that imposing sanctions to try to end nearly a year of violence in the world’s youngest state would likely “harden positions towards confrontation rather than cooperation.” Fighting erupted last December in South Sudan after months of political tension between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy and rival, Riek Machar. The conflict has reopened deep fault lines among ethnic groups, pitting Kiir’s Dinka against Machar’s Nuer.
The United States told the 15-member Security Council three weeks ago that it would draft a resolution establishing an international sanctions regime for South Sudan, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011. Diplomats said council members have not yet received a text. “The primary responsibility for resolving the problems of South Sudan rests squarely with it’s leaders. The international community can support these efforts but cannot deliver a solution from outside,” South Sudan’s U.N. Ambassador Francis Deng told the council.
The European Union and the United States have already imposed bilateral sanctions for frequent breaches of a first peace agreement signed in January. Ongoing talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, brokered by East African regional bloc IGAD have yet to reach a lasting deal.
Rebels accuse South Sudan of breaking truce
South Sudanese rebels have accused the government of violating their latest ceasefire deal, just hours after both sides pledged to end almost a year of fighting. Taban Deng Gai, negotiator for the ethnic Nuer rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar, said on Saturday government troops had “advanced from Bentiu and Pariang and attacked our positions at Tor and Hofra in Unity state”. Unity is South Sudan’s oil hub and saw fighting last month. Neither the government of President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, nor the eight-nation regional bloc IGAD, were available for comment.
Seyoum Mesfin, chief mediator in the conflict, had announced earlier in the day, after two days of talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, that both sides had agreed to cease hostilities unconditionally and bring the war to an end. “The parties commit to an unconditional, complete and immediate end to all hostilities, and to bring the war to an end,” said Seyoum, adding that they had also pledged to stop recruiting and mobilising civilians.
South Sudan crisis: Conflicts hits three states
Government and rebel forces have clashed in three states in South Sudan, just days after their leaders agreed to unconditionally end fighting.
A rebel spokesman blamed the government for attacking their positions, including oil fields. But the army accused the rebels of restarting the conflict, saying their attacks were repelled.
On Friday, regional body Igad gave the two sides a 15-day deadline to end conflict or risk sanctions. The fighting has displaced some 1.5 million people and more than seven million are at risk of hunger and disease, the United Nations (UN) says. The latest violence broke out in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states, where rebels allege that oil fields had been targeted, says BBC Africa’s Emmanuel Igunza in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.