U.N. Security Council extends South Sudan sanctions

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday voted to renew some sanctions on South Sudan through mid-July.

The Council also said it would consider imposing travel bans and asset freezes on six South Sudanese leaders if the country’s conflict does not stop by June 30.

The resolution, approved by a 9-0 vote with six abstentions, was a watered-down version of a draft measure proposed by the United States, whose ambassador, Nikki Haley, wrote in the Washington Post on Wednesday that the administration had “lost patience with the status quo” in South Sudan.

“What we need now is concrete action by the full international community to hold these warring parties accountable,” Haley said in impassioned remarks before the vote.

Critics of the resolution argued that the measure came at a sensitive time in peace talks led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and was rushed through the council with little consultation with the region.

South Sudan has been plagued by a civil war since December 2013, sparked by a feud between President Salva Kiir and his then-deputy Riek Machar.

Kiir accused Machar of plotting to overthrow his reign, allegations Machar denied but went on to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions others, prompting the UN early last year to rank South Sudan as Africa’s biggest refugee crisis.

The resolution stipulated that if the warring factions would not have ended hostilities by June 30, the council would consider freezing the assets and banning travel for six officials, including Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk, former army chief Paul Malong, Minister of Information Michael Lueth and deputy chief of defense for logistics in the South Sudan Army Malek Reuben Riak Rengu.

It also targeted Koang Rambang, governor of Bieh State, who the United States accused of leading military attacks and obstructing aid to civilians; and cabinet affairs minister Martin Elia Lomuro.