UNITED NATIONS, -- The United States has proposed the names of three South Sudanese officials for sanctions by the United Nations Security Council, most notably, the ousted opposition leader and former first vice-president, Riek Machar.

The move comes after the US introduced a draft resolution last week calling for an arms embargo to be imposed on South Sudan amidst warnings from the UN that violence was escalating across the country with the potential for genocide.

An annex sent to Security Council members includes proposals to blacklist Machar, South Sudan army Chief Paul Malong and the country's Information Minister, Michael Makuei. If the three are designated they would be subject to travel bans and an assets freeze.

A sanctions regime was established in 2015 and renewed in May this year for a period of one year and allows for such designations.

The US introduced a draft resolution on Thursday as concerns that ethnic divisions in the country could spiral out of control as the peace deal signed in August 2015 teeters on the brink.

As we have learned elsewhere, an arms embargo is effective if there is a broad and robust commitment to its enforcement. 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. These sanctions will limit the ability of such individuals to travel freely, as they are doing now across the region, or to move assets that could be used to fund further violence, says United States Permanent Representative to the UN Samantha Power.

The draft annex accuses Machar of entering into alliances with rebel groups to overthrow the South Sudanese government while the Army Chief is accused of efforts to kill Machar. The Information Minister stands accused of being involved in the planning of an April 2014 attack on a UN Compound in Jonglei State where three UN guards and 140 civilians were killed.

Russia says it does not support an arms embargo or any new sanctions and has accused Western nations of wanting to impose regime change in the country.

"New sanctions could further complicate the relationship between the host country, peacekeepers and the international community. Generally speaking introducing targeted sanctions against South Sudanese leaders would be the height of irresponsibility now. Someone probably wants very much to see that President Kiir share the fate of Gaddafi against whom there were also targeted sanctions introduced, says Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative, Peter Lliichev.

Various UN officials have for months been calling for the imposition of the arms embargo, including from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a call which has so far failed to generate consensus in the Council.

"The position expressed by Russia on the issue of the embargo, I do respect their sovereign position but I do also renew my call for an embargo to be imposed simply because what is happening today in this country is horrific and as I said, you have so much arms circulating in that country and everybody at this stage thinks that the only way to survive would be to have a gun and for this reason I think although it may not necessarily be the only recourse to bring the situation to calm, but I think if there is a strong commitment from all parties, all member states, it will make a difference, says Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng.

Machar fled South Sudan to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in August and was subsequently in neighbouring Sudan and then South Africa for medical treatment.

Source: Nam News Network

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