Cover Story

U.S BANS Makuei, Malong, Malek

By Jale Richard

The United States has banned two senior government officials and a former army chief from travelling to the U.S and frozen their assets, in response to the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation and the role of the officials in alleged undermining of peace, security, and stability of the country.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Wednesday that it had blacklisted Malek Rueben Riak Rengu, deputy chief of defense for logistics in the SPLA, Paul Malong Awan, former army chief who was dismissed in May, and Minister of Information Michael Makuei Lueth.

They have been banned from traveling to the United States, and all their foreign assets have been frozen.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mawien Ariik said it was so unfortunate that individual government officials were targeted by sanctions at this critical time when the government was fully implementing what was required of them.

“These individual sanctions cannot help in bringing peace to this country,” he said.  “By sanctioning them you are crippling the efforts they are doing, what we need from international community is not sanctions. We need moral support,” said ambassador Mawien.

This comes after Washington said it was reviewing its policy towards South Sudan.

Mawien said the government still believed in the normal diplomatic relationship with the United States, but facing difficulty with some people who come to visit South Sudan and on return to their country they bring another phase which was not there before.

Malek Rueben was sanctioned for being responsible in playing a central role in weapons procurement for the first several years of the conflict. “Malek Rueben was reportedly one of a group of senior security officials responsible for planning the April 2015 offensive in Unity State, which reportedly included widespread destruction, targeting of civilians, large population displacement, and numerous human rights abuses,” the statement said.

For Michael Makuei Lueth, he is designated for purportedly supporting the inspection of all vehicles belonging to the United Nations in 2014 and reportedly obstructing the delivery of humanitarian goods. Information indicates that he was also involved in planning and coordinating an April 17, 2014 attack on the UN compound in the Jonglei State capital of Bor, which killed three UN guards and 140 civilians, mostly women and children, and injured as many as 270.

The U.S said Makuei also worked to obstruct and undermine the execution and implementation of the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS),

The statement said on April 23rd, 2016, Makuei ordered the closure of Juba International Airport, apparently to delay and obstruct the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TNLA). Makuei claimed that the closure was due to the inadequate verification of the weapons accompanying opposition security forces, even though the South Sudanese military had already verified them.

The former chief of general staff of the SPLA, Paul Malong Awan has been sanctioned for being responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan, actions or policies that have the purpose or effect of expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan or obstructing reconciliation or peace talks or processes, and obstruction of the activities of international peacekeeping, diplomatic, or humanitarian missions in South Sudan, or of the delivery or distribution of, or access to humanitarian assistance.

Mawien said the government was working on opening humanitarian corridors to help aid reach the people. This is not helpful, it is so unfortunate.”

“As a government, we are really trying to bring normalcy to the country and implement all the agreements sponsored by the region and international community plus all the efforts that the President is trying really to bring peace by declaring the National Dialogue so that people of South Sudan can dialogue among themselves, so that they are able to come back to normal life,” he said. “This is an effort that we in the government need to support not sanctions because sanctions cannot help,” he said.

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