South Sudan’s armed opposition says threats of sanctions not bad

September 28, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s armed opposition faction led by the first vice president designate, Riek Machar, said threats of sanctions by the international community on South Sudan is a “deterrent” to potential peace violators.

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South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

“We are not against the proposed UN sanctions on South Sudan, particularly an arms embargo and other measures which would target individual peace spoilers,” James Gatdet Dak, press secretary for the opposition leader, Machar, told Sudan Tribune on Monday.

He said an arms embargo would significantly reduce the risk of returning the country to war if the “warmongers” were denied access to more weaponry and ammunition, adding that targeted sanctions by banning travel outside South Sudan of some of government officials and freezing their assets would minimize their ability to make trouble.

“You see, the regime is not sure whether to fully implement the peace agreement or not. There are those who still speak of reservations in the accord and warn of non-implementation of such reservations. Effective sanctions if imposed would serve as a deterrent to such potential peace spoilers,” he added.

He was referring to a list of reservations on provisions which president Salva Kiir complained about when he signed the peace agreement and asked the regional mediation, IGAD, to document them for “future reference.”

Dak said there is need for the international community to impose sanctions of arms embargo and assets freeze and to recover the stolen assets of the people of South Sudan, adding that the arms embargo should only be lifted after the full implementation of the peace deal when elections are successfully held and after the end of the 30-month transitional period.

He however pointed out that as for the armed opposition of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), they are committed to the full implementation of the peace deal.

The opposition leader’s spokesman further said they will be pushing for political and institutional reforms in all sectors of governance during the transitional period, including leading the nation to adopt a federal system of governance during the permanent constitution-making process.

He commended president Kiir’s government for committing to implement the provision of the demilitarization of the national capital, Juba, but stressed that this should not be done in another war preparation style of besieging Juba from all directions.

“Of course the step by the regime to withdraw forces from Juba is commendable. But their locations should be determined 25km outside Juba. This should not necessarily mean to spread them out around Juba, and among or near other civilian settlements, or to block all major roads to and fro Juba,” he said.

He also said this should equally apply to the other state capitals and major towns in the ten states of the country.

According to the current proposal by the South Sudan army (SPLA) command, their plan is to redeploy the troops from Juba to different locations around Juba, including Juba-Bor, Juba-Nimule, Juba-Torit, Juba-Yei, Juba-Mundri and Juba-Terekeka roads.

But Dak said the matter will be handled by the joint committee on ceasefire and security arrangements who shall be meeting in Addis Ababa to ascertain and agree on new army locations.

A joint police and presidential guards in addition to forces that will be guarding the barracks, bases and warehouses in Juba will be deployed from the two separate armies of the government and the opposition.

President Kiir and opposition leader Machar signed the peace agreement in August to end the 21-month long civil war in the country. A transitional government of national unity is expected to be formed in early December 2015.