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Gov’t welcomes UNSC decision on sanctions as rights groups slam the council

December 25, 2016 | No comment

The government has welcomed the failure by members of the United Nations Security Council to obtain the quorum needed to decide whether to impose an arms embargo and targeted sanctions or take other measures.

The cabinet affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro described the Security Council’s failure to reach consensus on the course of action as “the best Christmas gift for the peace of South Sudan”, stressing government’s commitment to implement the peace agreement.

“The council of ministers yesterday passed a resolution in which it deplored the way the situation in the country continues to be portrayed. We have noted that the renewed mandate of the United Nations mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) contains some wordings which are not necessary and which do not represent the realities of the actual situation in the country”, Lomuro said.

“We have said time and again that what is needed now is to support the implementation of the peace agreement. It is not time to impose targeted sanctions and arms embargo,” he added.

According to the minister, sanctions and arms embargo will undermine current efforts by the government to implement the peace, signed in August 2015 to end the conflict.

“As the government we welcomed and commend the efforts of those supporting us to implement the peace agreement. Sanctions would not help us move forward”, he said.

However Human Rights groups were outraged and expressed their anger at the Council’s decision.

Enough Projects Founding Director John Prendergast said “South Sudanese civilians had a reasonable expectation that the Security Council would make good on its long-standing threat to impose an arms embargo and extend sanctions to some of the senior leaders who have been responsible for grave human rights abuses”.

Prendergast added that “I can only imagine their frustration with today’s vote.”

Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa Muthoni Wanyeki urges African leaders to act to end atrocities in South Sudan.

“African leaders should use all tools at their disposal and act swiftly – ending the atrocities should not be relegated to the AU Summit at the end of January 2017,” Wanyeki said.

Akshaya Kumar, deputy United Nations director at Human Rights Watch said the UN Security Council fais to stand with South Sudanese war victims and that the council inability to adopt the resolution will allow the warring factions to buy more weapons.

“The Security Council had an opportunity to show that it stands with the civilian victims of this conflict. Instead, this failure gives the warring parties in South Sudan a green light to buy more weapons and materiel that will end up being used against civilians,” Kumar explained.

Managing director of Humanity United David Abramowitz describes how difficult it is to achieve peace in the nation where journalists are not allowed to report on political issues and civil society advocates fled to other countries.

“In a country where the media cannot report on the political situation and many civil society advocates have fled to neighboring countries for their safety – who is left to participate in a dialogue?” Abramowitz illustrated.

“Rather than taking President Kiir’s announcement on face value, the international community should be asking a lot more questions about who will be part of this dialogue, who will facilitate it, and what safety assurances citizens will be given ahead of joining it,” he wonders.

The United States Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power warned the Council members who refused to support the resolution that they choose “a big gamble.”

“The council members who didn’t support this resolution are taking a big gamble that South Sudan’s leaders will not instigate a catastrophe,” US Ambassador Samantha Power told the council after the vote. It is the people of South Sudan who will pay an unbearable price,” Power said after the vote.

The resolution, which calls for imposition of arms embargo and targeted sanctions failed to garner the necessary votes needed for a resolution to pass.

The US secured seven votes; however, Angola, Egypt, Senegal, Russia, Venezuela, China, Malaysia, and Japan refused to cast their votes.

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had warned the Council on Monday that genocide is looming in South Sudan and called on the international community to act.