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Use financial sanctions on South Sudanese leaders but don’t cut aid: Prendergast

May 13, 2018 (WASHINGTON) - John Prendergast, the founding director Enough Project Sunday said cutting humanitarian aid to South Sudan would not affect the government of President Salva Kiir and called to use financial tools to target the country leaders.

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Clooney, South Sudan’s Kiir and Prendergast share a light moment, March 11, 2012 (Larco Lomayat)

Prendergast made his call in an interview with the popular NPR radio station after a statement by the White House saying it would initiate a comprehensive review of its assistance programs to South Sudan.

"I think this is a point of leverage that we think we have, but it would only work if people actually cared about the welfare of their own population," he said.

"So what I fear is, if (...) the United States actually followed through with cutting off humanitarian assistance, the government of South Sudan would point at the starving babies and say, look what the United States did," he added.

The human rights activist who lobbied in the past for the independence of South Sudan, severely criticized the South Sudan government of President Salva Kiir for its failure to build a viable state it is a "government that’s lost all of its legitimacy" he said.

"This is not a government that supplies services to its people. It’s not a government that builds infrastructure, it’s not a government that provides security and adjudicates disputes. It’s a looting machine. It’s a kleptocracy. It’s a den of thieves," he further stressed.

Instead of the cut of humanitarian or economic assistance, Prendergast said financial sanctions on the South Sudanese officials would be more efficient and have a direct impact on them.

"The United States has the tools, the financial tools to go after the leaders of South Sudan and freeze their assets and seize all of the kind of money that they’ve stolen, put into banks, put into real estate, beautiful houses around the world, put into shell companies," he said.

"Go after that money and really create a serious financial consequence for the looting and destruction of their state," he added.