UN Imposes Sanctions on South Sudan Government, Rebel Commanders

The United Nations Security Council imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on three South Sudanese army generals and three rebel commanders for their roles in perpetuating the nation’s civil war.

The council slapped the sanctions on the six men “for fueling the ongoing conflict and contributing to a devastating crisis in their country,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said in a statement Wednesday. “As the members of the Security Council demonstrated today, those who commit atrocities and undermine peace will face consequences.”

The sanctions were the first the UN has imposed in a bid to curb the violence in the oil-producing nation that has forced at least 2 million people to flee their homes and left more than 6 million in need of humanitarian aid. Fighting erupted in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting to topple him.

South Sudan’s presidency criticized the move and said it will lobby African nations to have the sanctions lifted.

“It will further escalate the violence because those commanders who are given sanctions will be more infuriated and will be determined to continue fighting because they will not have other mechanisms of trying to protect themselves from sanctions passed against them,” South Sudanese presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said by phone Thursday from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Rebel spokesman Mabior Garang welcomed the UN action in response to a request for comment sent via Twitter. “Long overdue,” he said. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, head of a foreign relations committee for the insurgents, didn’t answer two calls to his Kenyan mobile phone.

Kiir and Machar met in Nairobi on June 27 to discuss proposals from East African nations on how to end the 18-month conflict, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement. The talks produced no breakthrough, Garang said in a post on his Twitter account.

The commanders affected by the sanctions include Gabriel Jok Riak, Simon Gatwech Dual, James Koang Choul, Santino Deng Wol, Marial Chanuong Yol and Peter Gadet, the council said in a statement.

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