South Sudan president, rebel leader responsible - experts

2016-01-26 21:55


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New York - The UN Security Council should put South Sudan's president and rebel leader on a sanctions blacklist for targeting civilians, and impose an arms embargo, a UN panel of experts said.

President Salva Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar are responsible for most of the violence committed during the war, now in its third year, said the report by the panel obtained by AFP on Tuesday.

Imposing sanctions on the two leaders would be by far the strongest step yet taken by the 15-member council, which has been largely powerless to stop the fighting in South Sudan, one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

"There is clear and convincing evidence that most of the acts of violence committed during the war, including the targeting of civilians and violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, have been directed by or undertaken with the knowledge of senior individuals at the highest levels of government and within the opposition," said the report.

Kiir and Machar "maintain command responsibility for their respective forces" and both sides have "consistently engaged in actions and policies" that are "grounds for the imposition of targeted sanctions," said the report.

The world's youngest nation, South Sudan has been torn by fighting between forces loyal to Kiir and rebels allied with Machar since December 2013 and the violence has exploded along ethnic lines.

After much international pressure and threats of sanctions, the leaders signed a peace deal in August, but the report confirmed the agreement had "failed to result in a meaningful reduction of violence."

Weapons build-up

The panel said both sides were actively seeking to buy arms and military equipment, even after the signing of the peace agreement.

Last month, Kiir's forces were awaiting delivery of the fourth Mi-24 attack helicopter from a private Ukrainian company, Motor Sich, as part of a $43-million deal, said the report.

It was also seeking to buy four more attack helicopters from a Uganda-based company for $35.7m.

Rebel forces have received ammunition, some arms and other items such as uniforms from Sudan, it added.

The panel recommended that the council "impose an embargo on the supply, sale or transfer to South Sudan" of arms, weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and spare parts to prevent a worsening of the violence.

The proposal is bound to stir controversy. Angola, China and Russia have resisted calls to slap an arms embargo on South Sudan.

The report confirmed that children were being recruited as soldiers and that rape was used as a tactic of war by both sides, with girls often abducted to become sex slaves.

"Almost every attack on a village, whether perpetrated by the SPLA, the SPLM/A in opposition or an allied militia, is accompanied by the rape and abduction of women and girls," the report said.

More than 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes in the war and 3.9 million South Sudanese face food shortages, an increase of 80 percent over the past year.

Over 200 000 civilians are sheltering in UN peacekeeping bases.

Read more on:    riek machar  |  salva kiir  |  south sudan  |  east africa

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