UNITED NATIONS: Voicing alarm over the crisis in South Sudan, the UN Security Council threatened Friday to slap sanctions on warring factions for failing to live up to a peace deal signed three months ago.
The warning came in a unanimous statement released ahead of a South Sudan visit by Security Council ambassadors next week during which the envoys are to deliver the message directly to the country’s leaders.
“The actions of President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar in continuing to pursue a military solution to this conflict are unacceptable,” said the 15-member council.
Under a peace deal signed in May, Kiir and Machar are to establish a unity government by today, but there are no signs they will meet that deadline.
The council “expresses its readiness to consider, in consultations with relevant partners... all appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions against those who take action that undermines the peace, stability and security of South Sudan, including those who prevent the implementation of these agreements,” the statement said.
A new round of peace talks opened in Ethiopia on Monday even as fighting raged on the ground, but there has been little reported progress.
International alarm is growing over a looming famine in South Sudan, which the United Nations has described as the world’s worst food crisis affecting at least 3.9 million people, or one in three.
US Ambassador Samantha Power said the Council was united in its determination to address the crisis in South Sudan.
The statement “strongly condemned failures by President Kiir and former vice president Machar to implement the cessation of hostilities,” Power told journalists.
The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions, including a travel ban and assets freeze, on military leaders from both sides, and an EU arms embargo remains in force.
US-based Human Rights Watch called Friday for an international arms embargo to be imposed on South Sudan to stem the violence.
In July, South Sudan said it had taken delivery of some $14m worth of arms including anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers and assault rifles, bought from China before fighting began.