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United States calls for UN arms embargo on South Sudan

The United States called Thursday for the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan. The request was not well received by all members of the UN Security Council.

US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power announced Thursday she would propose an arms embargo against South Sudan to the UN Security Council.

The announcement came after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warned that South Sudan faced a "very real risk of mass atrocities" and the 14,000 peacekeepers in the country would not be able to prevent a bloodbath. "Imposing new targeted sanctions designations will isolate the individuals who have consistently been responsible for the acts that have brought South Sudan to this moment and which have caused so much suffering," said Power.

Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, visited South Sudan last week and warned he saw an "environment ripe for…mass atrocities" during the visit. "I saw all the signs that ethnic hatred and targeting of civilians could evolve into genocide if something is not done now to stop it," said Dieng.

After South Sudan declared its independence in 2011, tensions snarled the world's youngest country and descended into civil war in December 2013. Tens of thousands have died and over 2.5 million have been displaced in the war between South Sudan President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer. Though a peace deal was signed in 2015, fighting has continued and Machar left the country in July 2016.

UN Adama Dieng UN-Sonderberater für die Verhinderung von Völkermord (picture alliance/Pacific Press Agency/A. Lohr-Jones)

UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide also believes an arms embargo is appropriate

Opposition to the embargo

Not every member of the UN Security Council is on board with the idea of an arms embargo against South Sudan. Though the embargo has support from the United Kingdom and France, Russia opposed the call for an embargo and China is hesitant.

"We think that implementing such a recommendation would hardly be helpful in settling the conflict," said Deputy Russian UN Ambassador Petr Iliichev. "Introducing targeted sanctions against South Sudanese leaders would be the height of irresponsibility now.”

China's Deputy Ambassador Wo Haito said the council should be "prudent" and avoid imposing sanctions in order "to avoid complicating the situation."

Russia and China have the power to veto measures in the 15-member UN Security Council.

Ongoing violence

Fighting near the border with Sudan resulted in at least 15 deaths on Thursday, according to reports.

Kiir granted amnesty to more than 750 rebels Thursday, local media reported. Rebel spokesman Dickson Gatluak said this gesture was not enough to create peace in the area.

kbd/kl (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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AfricaLink on Air - 11 November 2016

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