Russia opposes sanctions on rival South Sudan generals

2015-09-16 10:12


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New York - Russia said on Tuesday it opposes new sanctions sought by the United States against a South Sudan army chief and a former army general who is now a rebel commander for continuing to fuel conflict in the world's newest nation.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the foreign ministers of Sudan and South Sudan, who recently held talks in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, signed a joint communiqué that included opposition to sanctions in the conflict-torn south.

"We think we need to take that into account," Churkin told reporters. "The United States, very often they just say 'sanctions, sanctions, sanctions' and in some cases it severely aggravates the situation."

The UN Security Council had set a 15: 00 deadline on Tuesday for members to raise objections and diplomats said Angola joined Russia in blocking a travel ban and asset freeze on South Sudanese General Paul Malong and ex-general Johnson Olony, who has joined forces with rebel leader Riek Machar.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the objection process is private.

Peace agreement

Fighting broke out in oil-rich South Sudan in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused his ex-vice president Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, of trying to oust him. That sparked ethnic attacks and fighting that was supposed to end after Kiir reluctantly followed Machar and signed a peace deal on August 26, but fighting has continued.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has invited Kiir and Machar to a high-level meeting on South Sudan that the UN chief is holding September 29 during the annual General Assembly gathering of world leaders, Ban's spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday. But an updated list of speakers for the gathering, released on Tuesday, no longer lists Kiir as attending.

The Security Council imposed sanctions on six generals — three from each side — on July 1 for continuing the conflict which has killed thousands, created a humanitarian crisis and displaced over two million people.

The United States, an early and vocal supporter of South Sudan's independence from neighbouring Sudan, has tried to keep up pressure on the feuding parties, first to sign the peace agreement and now to implement it.

Read more on:    russia  |  sudan  |  east africa

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