South Sudan risks being slapped with fresh sanctions by the United Nations Security Council following a report by a top UN official, saying leaders in the country are still ‘bent on armed confrontation’.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under Secretary – General for peacekeeping operations told the security council that despite work done by the regional trading bloc, IGAD to facilitate an agreement on a permanent ceasefire, the ‘parties remain far apart on the issues’.
He also highlighted the scale of sexual violence and increasing cases of aggression against humanitarian agencies and their staff.
There must be consequences for blatant violations of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement and broken promises to protect civilians
“We must respond and respond quickly to ensure accountability for these violations and abuses and bring an end to these heinous acts once and for all,” stressed the senior UN official.
The Security Council was Tuesday discussing possible renewal of the mandate of the Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts on South Sudan to exert pressure on the warring factions to strike a peace deal.
In a brief statement posted on its official website, the council says a decision on imposing more sanctions would be reached after examining a new report on the situation.
The world’s youngest country, South Sudan, has spent much of the past seven years mired in conflict, riven by a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and his then former Vice-President Riek Machar that erupted into full-blown war late in 2013.
Kiir recently called on his exiled former deputy to return to the country, saying the government has now chosen the path of forgiveness.
The gesture is a rare ray of hope in a country where agreements and ceasefires have been severally violated by both the government and the rebel groups.
IGAD has also postponed talks to secure the implementation of the peace process, without giving any explanations or setting a new date for the process.
South Sudan allies frustrated
South Sudan’s allies are getting impatient with the United States announcing on Tuesday that they would review their assistance programs in the country due to frustration with lack of progress in the peace progress.
The European Union has also warned that it would impose sanctions on South Sudan should the peace process fail.
Lacroix, calling on the Council to use its influence to force the warring parties back to the negotiating table.
“It is in this context that I reiterate that there must be a tangible cost for the continuation of violence in South Sudan,” he said.
‘‘There must be consequences for blatant violations of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement and broken promises to protect civilians.’‘
The experts committee was established in 2015 to administer the implementation of the sanctions related to South Sudan.
The Security Council in 2015 imposed sanctions on some six South Sudan military leaders on ground of fuelling the conflict and orchestrating war crimes and crimes against humanity that have left nearly 4.3 million South Sudanese displaced from their homes.