Protests against US arms embargo in South Sudan turn violent

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Demonstrations turned violent in South Sudan’s capital as people took to the streets to protest U.S. president Donald Trump’s new ban on the supply of weapons to the army and rebels.

The United States imposed a unilateral arms embargo on South Sudan on Friday with the State Department saying it is “appalled” by the continuing violence perpetrated by both sides in the conflict.

Hundreds gathered outside the American Embassy and the nearby United Nations base on Tuesday morning to show their anger. Several demonstrators carried posters which read “Down Down Mr. Trump” and “Don’t weaken our nation Mr. Trump”

An embassy spokesperson confirmed that the protesters had delivered a petition to the U.S. Embassy. The petition cited the demonstrators’ anger over the arms embargo and accused the U.S. of supporting the rebels through the UN mission to South Sudan and neighbouring countries, according to a copy seen by The Associated Press (AP) news agency.

The protest which began peacefully later turned violent with the crowd harassing and physically assaulting three journalists including a reporter for the AP, a German freelancer and a reporter for the South Sudan press. None were seriously injured.

South Sudan’s government wouldn’t comment on the embargo but condemned the violence.

“The security authorities would have been there for the peaceful protest,” said government spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny. “If violence took place it was individuals taking the law into their own hands.”

South Sudan has been embroiled in a a 5-year civil war that has killed untold tens of thousands and displaced millions. A cease-fire on December 24 was broken hours after going into effect. The latest rounds of peace talks are underway in neighboring Ethiopia.

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