U.S. threatens to impose sanctions if South Sudan backtracks

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The United States has threatened to impose sanctions or an arms embargo on South Sudan’s leaders if they fail to honour the proposed unity government to end the conflict that has dodged the nation, a senior US official said on Wednesday.

“We have everything at the table, we are prepared to look at sanctions, we’re prepared to look at an arms embargo,” U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, told lawmakers.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused Riek Machar, his then deputy, of plotting a coup against his government.

Machar refuted the claims but fled the capital and went ahead to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.

Machar returned to the capital on Tuesday and was sworn in as vice president under Salva Kiir in an AU-backed peace deal that will see the formation of a transitional unity government.

Machar said that the first challenge of the unity government would be to ensure a total ceasefire throughout the world’s youngest nation.

Booth said that one effective way to cut weapons supplies to South Sudan was to impose strict controls over its capital expenditure, which would also help focus spending on the neediest.

“We all agree there are far too many arms in South Sudan and they certainly don’t need any more,” Booth said, “If we can use the financial side to get at preventing additional weapons from getting into South Sudan, that would be an easier way to do it and a more effective way to do it.”

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