February 3, 2017 (JUBA) – The United Kingdom Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin has welcomed the European Union (EU) sanctions against three South Sudanese officials responsible for serious human rights violations and obstructions of the country’s political process.
The European body, on 2 February, announced new sanctions on former army chief of staff, Paul Malong, another former military official, Malek Reuben Riak and current information minister Michael Makuei Leuth.
The three, according to the EU, will now be subjected to sanctions by all its member states with immediate effect.
The new EU sanction comes ahead of the start of new peace talks scheduled for 5 February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. These talks aim to restart the peace process following the repeated breaches of the cessation of hostilities agreed between South Sudanese government and the armed opposition forces (SPLM-IO) in December 2017.
“It is more vital than ever that those undermining the peace process recognise the price of their actions. The UK has played a leading role in pushing for these sanctions at an EU level and it is right that we are taking tough action against those who continue to act against the interests of the South Sudanese people,” Baldwin said in a statement.
He added, “We remain committed to supporting the peace process and urge South Sudan’s leaders to participate in good faith to agree a political solution and end the suffering of their people”.
The conflict in South Sudan, now in its fifth year, has devastated South Sudan, causing a humanitarian, political and economic crisis.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and over 1.5 million remain on the brink of famine, aid agencies say. In addition, more than 4 million people, or a third of the South Sudanese population, have fled their homes causing Africa’s largest refugee crisis.