With or without sanctions, we are moving forward – Makuei

By Ephraim Modi Duku Sokiri

South Sudan is currently on a one-year extension of the sanctions imposed upon the government last year and ends in 1st July 2023, including the arms embargo, travel ban and financial measures, even as some of its members questioned the effectiveness of those measures.

This is as a result of past and continues cases of human rights violations in South Sudan and this have anticipated deep concern on the ongoing human crisis in the country.

However, the Minister of Information, Communication and Postal Service, Michael Makuei Lueth expressed his concern to the media on Saturday in Juba towards the sanctions executed on the government of South Sudan by the International Community in relation to implementation of the pending phases in the peace agreement.

Makuei reiterated that despite the sanctions put on them, the implementation of the peace agreement signed in 2018 between the worrying principals will move forward in action as the country gears into elections expected to take place in December next year.

“If the sanctions continue of course, we are continuing, we have been continuing with the sanctions, it is not new to us, …when the sanctions are imposed among us, they are done without our consent” he said.

“So, we don’t have any say, even though we have been talking every hour… about the negative impact of the arms embargo on us, …so many countries in the world are surviving with these sanctions” Makuei said.

He continued that, “even though the sanctions are affecting us on one way or the other, we cannot stop because the sanctions have been imposed on us, we will continue and we will continue to operationalize in implementing the agreement as it is”.

The United Nations Security Council reiterated its readiness to review arms embargo measures through, inert alia, modification, suspension, or progressive lifting of those measures, in light of progress on the key benchmarks.

It also requested that the secretary general, in close consultation with the United Nations Missions in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the panel, conduct an assessment of progress made no later than 15th April 2023.

Meanwhile Minister Makuei expressed that the conditions levied on them in relation to lifting the sanctions are extremely difficult to implement.

“There are so many conditions that have been put on us and that it is after implementing those conditions that the sanctions will be lifted. Of course, some of the conditions are just conditions which are impossible to implement, so these are conditions put as an obstacle to the implementation of the agreement” said Minister Makuei.

First sanctions imposed in the government of South Sudan was in 2018, and identified the implementation of the 2021 action plan as one of the five benchmarks against which renewal of the arms embargo was reviewed in May 2022.

Amnesty International conducted its investigation amid fighting between government forces and the National Salvation Front in Central Equatoria State in February and March 2022.

During this period, the organization received further reports of Conflict-Related Sexual Violations (CRSV), yet chose not to interview the women as they had not yet received psychological support.

In 2014, the UN Secretary General listed the South Sudan army, the SPLM-IO, the police and other armed groups in his annual report on CRSV as parties suspected of committing, or being responsible for, patterns of sexual violence in conflict situations that are on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

This started a process that culminated in January 2021 with the adoption of the Action Plan for the Armed Forces on Serviceing conflict related sexual violence in South Sudan.

In 2019, Amnesty International research found that, since the war started in 2013, the government had failed to investigate and prosecute suspected perpetrators of crimes committed against civilians in relation to the conflict, including CRSV, which allowed impunity to thrive.

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